Pressure sores claims

In many cases, pressure sores are wholly avoidable where good care is provided to hospital patients and care home residents. Where care is substandard, pressure sores can develop causing unnecessary pain and suffering. Expert legal advice should be sought in order to put things right.

The previous decade saw a 50% increase in the number of patients dying with signs of bed sores, reaching a total of 27,000 each year. In each and every case the discomfort and sometimes disability inflicted on victims as a result of these largely avoidable afflictions is a serious cause for concern.

Claiming for Pressure Sores

Strict NICE guidelines exist on the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers, and where these are adhered to, it’s thought that 95% of cases are avoidable.  Patients with mobility problems should always be frequently turned, and where ulcers do appear they should be monitored closely by staff, with at least one thorough check conducted each week. Medical staff should also ensure appropriate bedding is provided to ensure comfort for the patient and reduce the risks of bed sores occurring.

Where care home staff fail to observe these measures, and pressure sores develop or continue to deteriorate, leading to pain and suffering, you may be able to claim for pressure sores or bed sores to compensate you for the suffering and additional treatment that is required as a result.

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If you or a loved one have suffered from pressure sores, you may be entitled to pressure sore compensation. Call Blackwater Law medical negligence solicitors today on 0800 083 5500. You will speak with an experienced medical negligence lawyer who will give you free initial advice and guidance on whether you may be entitled to make a claim for pressure sores compensation.

Recognised by the Legal 500 as one of the South East’s leading medical negligence teams, our lawyers have the knowledge and the experience to handle your claim for bed or pressure sores successfully, achieving you the maximum sum of compensation possible. Call today, as time restrictions may apply to your case.

No Win, No Fee Pressure Sores Claims

When you call us and receive free initial advice, if we believe you or your family member may be entitled to compensation, we will agree to represent you in your claim on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means that there is no risk to you. If your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay any legal fees. Blackwater Law undertakes all medical negligence claims on a no-win, no-fee basis.

The Impact of Bed / Pressure Sores

Bed sores are essentially lesions or wounds that form around prominent bony areas of the body such as the hips, lower back, tailbone, heels, back of the head or the elbows. Their impact on daily life will vary according to how serious they are, with the least severe identified as Grade 1, all the way up to Grade 4 where the wound is observed to have penetrated all the way down to the bone.

  • In Grade 1 cases of pressure sores, the wound is largely superficial, with the affected area of skin appearing discoloured. If you have white skin the sore will appear red, whilst in those with darker skin tones, it can appear blue or purple. Grade 1 ulcers will not turn white when pressure is applied and generally the skin remains intact. The texture of the skin is likely to be affected however, feeling warm, spongy or hard and discomfort is commonplace as a result of itching or aching
  • Grade 2 cases of bed sores denote where the outer layer of skin (known as the “dermis”) is damaged and skin has been lost. These bed sores resemble an open wound or a blister.
  • Where a patient has a Grade 3 pressure sore, multiple layers of skin are damaged and further damage has also been inflicted on the underlying tissues. Whilst muscle and bones remain unaffected, the injury comes to resemble a deep cut or cavity-like wound.
  • A Grade 4 classification of a bed sore denotes the most severe form of pressure sore. Here the skin is so badly damaged that surrounding tissues begin to die (a condition known as “tissue necrosis”), and damage may also have occurred to underlying bone and muscle. These cases also carry the most significant risk of the patient developing an infection.

In the more serious cases, those involving Grade 2, 3 or 4 pressure sores, there may be a strong argument for making a pressure sores claim due to the fact care may have been to a substandard level for a period of time long enough for the wounds to deteriorate to such an extent.

All bed sores can cause a great deal of pain and difficulty moving. Many take a long time to heal properly, and some may never heal at all. The elevated risk of infection can also lead to further health problems later on, or delay recovery from their primary ailment.

Where clinical negligence on the part of hospital or care home staff can be proven to have caused or worsened any of the aforementioned conditions, regardless of the grade of the bed sore, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation for you or your family member.

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Treatment of Pressure Sores

Should you or a family member suffer from bed sores whilst in a hospital or a care home, there are a number of measures that should be taken to alleviate suffering.

Even in the least severe cases, pressure ulcers represent discomfort and an inconvenience and will require additional care. Dressings, creams and gels may be applied to address the pain and to speed up the healing process. In more serious cases surgery may be required to remove damaged tissues that cannot be saved and that pose an infection risk. Where care is so poor that bed sores are allowed not just to appear but to remain and grow, patients may fall victim to life-threatening complications such as blood poisoning or even gangrene.

There is much guidance published by the NHS on how to prevent pressure ulcers and hospital and care home staff should be following these, often simple, procedures. Preventative measures include regularly changing patients’ positions to alleviate pressure applying to the same areas of the body. For example, those that are wheelchair-bound should change position as regularly as every 15-30 minutes, whilst those that are bed-bound should change position approximately every two hours, according to best practice. Whilst changing position is the most effective preventative measure, ensuring a patient eats a balanced nutritional diet is also key, particularly when recovering from existing pressure sores.

Whilst it isn’t always possible to prevent bed sores in the most vulnerable patients, adequate protection and treatment methods should always be applied. Measures include preventing any pressure from applying to an area of the body already affected, properly dressing wounds, and changing this dressing regularly. Should care home or hospital staff fail to do this, it will likely influence the outcome of any prospective claim for pressure sores that patients might make.

What Happens Next?

When you commence a claim for bed sores in an NHS care home, your claim will be made to the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA). Only around 2% of medical negligence cases will eventually be heard in court. The vast majority of claims are resolved through negotiations between your medical negligence solicitor and the NHSLA. If your claim is successful, following your medical negligence solicitor compiling evidence and submitting a legal argument against the NHSLA, your solicitor will negotiate a settlement on your behalf. An experienced medical negligence solicitor will see to it that your claim is successful in securing an admission of liability from the NHS or agreeing to a settlement. In both cases, because there is no set amount payable in medical negligence claims and because every case is different, your medical negligence lawyer at Blackwater Law will use their experience to negotiate the highest level of compensation available to you.

Claims for pressure sores can take different lengths of time. Following an initial investigation and the gathering and formation of legal and medical evidence, your medical negligence solicitor will submit a ‘Letter of Claim’ to the NHSLA. The NHSLA will have 4 months to respond either with a denial of clinical negligence or with an acceptance of the blame for you having developed pressure sores. Their response, in conjunction with advice and support offered by us, will eventually form the basis of how best to proceed with your claim.

The duration of proceedings will depend largely on whether or not the NHSLA concedes liability or chooses to contest your claim for bed sores. Whatever happens, Blackwater Law will support you every step of the way, keeping you informed as to the latest developments and ensuring your case is progressed in line with your best interests.

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