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Recent research completed by medical negligence solicitors Blackwater Law has shown that pressure damage/sores/ulcers were the most commonly recorded category of Serious Incident across 96 NHS trusts in England and Wales and Welsh health boards.
The findings come from a larger piece of research by Blackwater Law into the occurrence of Serious Incidents across 235 NHS Trusts in England and Wales. The findings from this research can be viewed here.
From the 171 acute and community health trusts in England and Wales and Welsh health boards, 96 provided a breakdown of description of each Serious Incident that was recorded in the trust or health board during the period 1st April 2016 – 31st March 2017.
Out of 7867 recorded incidents there had been 1762 separate Serious Incidents recorded against the category of pressure damage/sores/ulcers making it the most commonly recorded category of Serious Incident, accounting for 22.4% of the Serious Incidents from which a category was provided for.
75 of the trusts in England and Wales and Welsh health boards did not provide a breakdown or description of the Serious Incidents that they had recorded during the year, suggesting the total number of Serious Incidents relating to pressure damage/sores/ulcers is potentially far higher.
Pressure sores or ulcers are injuries that occur to the skin and underlying tissue, primarily caused by prolonged pressure on the skin. As a result, they frequently affect those that are confined to a bed or wheelchair. They can occur on any part of the body but frequently affect the heels, hips and spine. Pressure sores and ulcers can vary in their severity from an open wound through to a very deep wound that may reach the bone and muscle and can therefore have wide reaching implications on the patient.
In many instances pressure sores/ulcers are thought to be avoidable where good care is provided. As a result, if a pressure sore has been acquired through negligent care it may be possible to pursue a pressure sore claim as part of a wider hospital negligence claim.
Information from the NHS England Serious Incident Framework – Frequently asked questions (March 2016) states that if the patient was not in receipt of NHS funded healthcare at the time the pressure ulcer was developed then it would not meet the criteria of a Serious Incident and therefore should not be recorded as one. As a result, it can be expected that the total number of pressure ulcers occurring would be substantially higher than those recorded as Serious Incidents as these should account for only the most severe instances.