Pressure Sores and Bed Sores Claims
If you or member of your family have suffered a pressure sore whilst under the care of a health professional, either in a hospital or care home you may be entitled to compensation.
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Pressure sores, also known as pressure ulcers or bed sores, affect tens of thousands each year in the UK. They are an unwanted complication of illness, severe physical disability or increasing frailty, and are caused by pressure or shear forces over a bony prominence, mainly due to immobility. Pressure sores are largely preventable and are often the result of negligent care or nursing.
To successfully claim for medical (also known as clinical) negligence, you need robust legal representation and advice. At Tilly Bailey & Irvine, we have been accredited by the Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA). Our specialist team of medical negligence lawyers have dealt with many cases of patients developing bedsores or pressure sores and have successfully claimed compensation for them.
We are not a faceless claims management company; we are real lawyers with a strong track record of successfully winning clients significant compensation awards. Our hospital negligence team is led by John Hall. As well as having years of experience running medical negligence claims, John is a panel member of AvMA and a Senior Litigator with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
We know that the victims of bedsores and pressure sores are often vulnerable; for example, the patient is elderly or in a coma. John and his team advise, represent and support victims and/or their families in a compassionate, professional manner, always keeping you fully informed as to how your case is progressing.
What are pressure sores and bed sores?
Bedsores, also called pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers, are injuries to skin and underlying tissue due to prolonged pressure on the skin
Pressure sores can range in severity, from minor discolouration of the flesh to open wounds.
How do you get bed sores?
Pressure sores develop when intense pressure is applied to an area of skin over a short period.
The constant pressure interrupts the blood supply. This deprives the skin tissue of oxygen and healthy nutrients, causing it to become damaged and die.
The lack of oxygen also means any sore that develops cannot receive infection-fighting white blood cells which can lead to further, dangerous complications, including:
- Blood poisoning
- Bone and joint infection
- Necrotising fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria)
- Gas Gangrene
How to treat pressure sores
Treatment for bed sores varies, depending on the severity of the condition.
The main types of treatment include:
- regularly changing the patient's position, to prevent further pressure being put on areas vulnerable to bedsores
- use of special mattresses and cushions
- dressing the wound with either hydrocolloid dressings which encourage the growth of new cells or alginate dressings, made from seaweed, which speeds up the healing process
- applying special creams and ointments to the area
- if the bed sore is infected, you may be prescribed antibiotics
- nutritional supplements, including protein, zinc and vitamin C – a dietician may be assigned to develop a nutritional plan
- removal of the dead tissue from the ulcer (known as debridement)
- maggot therapy (larvae therapy), which involves allowing maggots to feed on the dead tissue without touching the tissue which is healthy (research shows this can be the most effective method of debridement)
Pressure sores are graded from 1 to 4, with 3 and 4 involving tissue damage or tissue death. For grade 4 bedsores, surgery is often the only option, but this carries with it further complications.
Grade 4 pressure sores also carry a high risk of a life-threatening infection developing.
Common areas for pressure sores
Bedsores most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips, and tailbone. The parts of the body most at risk of developing pressure ulcers are those that are not covered by a significant amount of body fat and are in direct contact with a supporting surface, such as a bed or a wheelchair.
The following factors increase the risk of a pressure sore developing:
- the patient is unable or has difficulty moving
- the patient is over 70 years old
- conditions that lead to poor nutrition such as anorexia nervosa
- an underlying health condition that affects the blood supply to the skin
- urinary or bowel incontinence
- severe mental illness
How to make a medical negligence claim for pressure sores
Nurses and caregivers are trained to identify the risk of pressure sore development and have a duty to ensure that anyone at risk receives the appropriate level of care, to prevent this condition from occurring. Prevention strategies include pressure relief by means of regular repositioning, the use of pressure distributing equipment, use of a high specification mattress, improvement of nutritional status and skin care.
If you believe that reasonable measures were not undertaken to avoid the development of what is an increasingly common but largely avertable injury, you could be due compensation for medical negligence.
Our specialist clinical negligence lawyers have successfully secured significant settlements, for clients who have suffered pressure sores due to the negligence of a health care provider.
We offer no win, no fee arrangements for our clients. This means that if you do not receive compensation, you will not have to pay any legal fees. We can also arrange insurance cover in relation to disbursements. The premium is deferred and only payable if the claim is successful.
Due to our years of experience in handling medical negligence claims we endeavour to ensure that the vast majority of viable claims are settled without the need for you to attend court.
Please come and talk to us if you or your loved one has suffered from a bed or pressure sore. We can help you achieve the compensation you need to fund your care needs.
To find out more about how we can advise you on a bed or pressure sore negligence claim, please call us on 0333 444 4422 to talk to one of our solicitors.