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Feeling The Pressure - Top Facts About Pressure Sores & Ulcers

View profile for Sylvia Taylor
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It is a surprising fact that 95% of pressure ulcers are avoidable. The most common scenario where pressure ulcers are likely to develop is where the person concerned has limited mobility, often due to illness or infirmity.

The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) issues guidance on the prevention and management of pressure ulcers. Pressure ulcers are graded from 1 to 4 as follows:-

  1. Grade 1 refers to non-blanchable redness of intact skin.
  2. Grade 2 refers to partial thickness skin loss or blister.
  3. Grade 3 refers to full thickness skin loss (fat visible).
  4. Grade 4 refers to full thickness tissue loss (muscle/bone visible).

It is important to carry out a risk assessment of a patient at an early stage, so that if any risk factors are identified, appropriate steps can be taken to prevent pressure ulcers developing.  Appropriate steps would include turning regularly and using pressure relieving aids such as pressure relieving mattresses and cushions.  If pressure ulcers do develop then the sooner treatment is initiated, the better the chance of healing before further damage is done.

The majority of pressure ulcers develop due to a failure to carry out a risk assessment.  The NICE Guidelines state that every patient must be assessed within 6 hours of admission to hospital and within 24 hours in a community setting.  Where there has been a risk assessment, it should it be checked on a regular basis and acted upon. It is important to monitor the patient’s skin and report any changes that occur.

When pressure ulcers are identified, it is important that they are treated immediately.  Any delay in treatment can impede recovery and cause unnecessary suffering.

It is often a family member who raises the alarm to staff. A common response from nurses is to blame the patient for being uncooperative, or, particularly in care or rehabilitation homes, the staff saying it was the responsibility of the District Nurses or GP for either failing to spot or failing to treat appropriately.

It is surprising that despite the Guidelines and training procedures, the number of  pressure sore claims arising out of the development and failure to treat pressure ulcers show no signs of decline. I have recovered compensation for a number of clients recently where the ulcers had reached grade 3/ 4 levels. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with me or any of the Medical Negligence Team if you need advice.

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