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A Guide to Bed Sores/Pressure Sore Negligence Compensation Claims – How To Claim?

Pressure on the skin for prolonged periods of time can often cause injuries to the skin and the underlying tissue, and these are known as bed sores or pressure ulcers. It is estimated that in the UK, at least 500,000 people per year may develop a pressure ulcer or bedsore. Although anyone can experience a pressure ulcer, they are usually prevalent in those that are immobile and confined to a bed or chair, or to those who are in a wheelchair such as patients in hospital or those in a care or residential home. In fact, two out of three people who experience pressure ulcers are over the age of seventy. Any situation where a person is immobile and sat or lying down for long periods of time will increase the chances of them developing a pressure ulcer.

Bed soresAs mentioned, people who develop pressure ulcers or bed sores are those that are immobile and cannot physically move themselves into a different position, whereas a healthy or younger person will automatically move themselves if they start to feel uncomfortable. Therefore, medical or care staff should be regularly moving these people as part of their care plan to ensure that pressure ulcers do not develop. However, if the staff become negligent in their care duties, then this will leave the patient or elderly person at risk. Pressure ulcers and bed sores can be extremely painful and distressing, and if left untreated, could become infected and result in a serious risk of gangrene or blood poisoning developing. Bed sores and pressure ulcers are preventable if the correct care is taken and so for them to develop, some sort of neglect has usually taken place and the injured person has every right to make a pressure ulcers and bed sores compensation claim.

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Who is Legally Responsible for Pressure Ulcer Legal Cases?

Pressure ulcers and bed sores are mostly preventable and so the occurrence of them can often indicate that the injured person has been receiving substandard care and the healthcare professionals responsible for providing the care should be held accountable for their neglect.

Pressure sores normally develop after pressure has been applied to a certain part of the body for a prolonged period of time and result in pain and distress for the sufferer. If the sores are left untreated they can become not only extremely painful, but can pose a serious health risk due to complications that can ensue the development of a bed sore, and in extreme cases, even result in death.

Pressure sore negligence claims can be brought against those in charge of providing sufficient and adequate quality of care to those with restricted mobility if it can be proven that they are in breach of this duty of care.

Depending on the severity of the bed sores or pressure ulcers, recovery can be a long, painful process and pressure sore compensation claims need to reflect this. Legal Expert can help you to get the compensation award you deserve for the pain and suffering you have endured.

Bed Sores Hospital Negligence

Hospitals and care homes legally have a duty of care to ensure they identify which of their patients or residents may be at risk of developing pressure ulcers or bed sores so they can include preventative measures in their individual care plans. NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence), along with the Royal Collage of Nursing, has put together guidelines as to how to identify, prevent and treat bed and pressure sores. All new patients and residents should be assessed when admitted into hospital or a care home to determine their risk factor. This should be done using the Waterlow Score. The Waterlow is basically a risk assessment chart that is made up of seven areas:

1) Build / weight
2) Height
3) A visual assessment of the skin
4) Age / sex
5) Whether a person is incontinent or not
6) A person’s mobility level
7) Appetite

Along with these, the medical professional carrying out the assessment needs to use their own clinical judgement and also look at special risk factors such as whether a person is malnourished, has undergone surgery or trauma, has any neurological deficits, and what medication they may be taking.

Taking all of these into account, the Waterlow score can then be found:

  • A person ‘at risk’ will have a score of 10-14
  • A person considered to be at ‘high risk’ will have a score of 15-19
  • A score above 20 will show that a person is at ‘very high risk’

The patients or residents that have been identified as being at risk should be provided with the correct bedding and mattress, and receive the proper care in order to prevent them developing pressure ulcers.

Bed sores hospital negligence cases can be brought against the hospital or care home if they do not provide the correct care or treatment and a patient or resident goes on to develop bed sores. If you or a loved one has developed bed sores or pressure ulcers due to receiving substandard care whilst in hospital or a care home, then you could make a bed sores compensation claim. Legal Expert have a lot of experience in pressure ulcer legal cases and can help you to get the pressure sores compensation award that you or your loved one deserve.

Providing the Correct Care in Pressure Sores Compensation Cases

After someone has been assessed to determine their risk factor of developing bed sores or pressure ulcers, if they are found to be at significant risk, then certain care methods should be put in place and the correct equipment provided, in order to prevent the pressure ulcers from occurring.

Special skin assessments should be carried out by a specially trained medical professional taking into account any discomfort or pain experienced by the individual.

  • The assessment should look for the skin integrity in areas under pressure.
  • They should look for any skin discoloration or colour changes.
  • Any changes in heat, moisture (changes may be because of incontinence, oedema or the skin may be inflamed and dry), and firmness need to be recorded.

Any erythema or skin discolouration that was discovered in the skin assessment, should be assessed to determine if it is blanchable by a process called finger palpation or diascopy.

Preventative action for those found to have non-blanching erythema needs to begin and a skin assessment should possibly be carried out every two hours until the problem is resolved.

Repositioning – Patients or residents found to be at risk of developing pressure ulcers should be encouraged to change their position at least every six hours. If, due to reduced mobility, they are unable to do this themselves, then care staff should help them to do so using the correct equipment if required. Their repositioning should be recorded such as time and current position.

Patients that are considered to be at high risk, should move position, or be moved, at least every four hours rather than six. Again, any repositioning should be recorded.

Special mattresses – High-specification foam mattresses should be provided for anyone at risk of developing pressure sores. These redistribute surface pressure and so help to prevent pressure ulcers.

Special cushions – Similarly to the mattresses, high-specification foam cushions should be provided to those in chairs or wheelchairs for prolonged periods.

Barrier creams should be used for those at risk where skin condition can be affected by incontinence, oedema, or dry and inflamed skin that was identified during the skin assessment.

Failure to provide the above care methods and equipment would mean that the hospital or care home is in breach of their duty of care to their patient or resident, and so pressure sore claims may be brought against them for negligence.

The Different Stages of Bed Sores

Distortion of the skin and underlying tissue caused by prolonged pressure on the skin, if left, will directly result in a pressure ulcer or bed sore.

The continued pressure on the skin stops the blood flowing freely to the skin, and this lack of blood flow effectively starves the skin of oxygen and essential nutrients. This then results in the skin breaking down and start to form ulcers.

There are four different grades of pressure sores depending on their severity, these are:

  • Grade 1 – At this stage, the pressure sores are milder and only the upper layer of skin is affected. The most common symptoms are burning, itching and general pain, and often the skin may feel different around the area such as warmer, cooler, softer or firmer. The area may appear to be redder than normal and due to the decrease in blood flow, will not fade if pressed. If treated quickly, the pressure ulcer may go after two or three days.
  • Grade 2 – If a stage 1 pressure sore is left or not dealt with swiftly, it will progress further onto grade 2 where the sore is now deeper below the surface of the skin and can lead to an open, weeping sore or pus filled blister. Usually the affected area will appear swollen, warm and often red in colour. They are painful sores and may ooze fluid. Depending on the severity of a grade 2 bed sore and the treatment received, the sore could heal within three weeks. However, if left untreated, will develop onto grade 3.
  • Grade 3 – These sores have now gone through the deeper layer of skin to the layer of fat beneath the skin. The sore will look like a crater in the skin and often be accompanied by a bad odour. They will be hot, red and oozing fluid, and sometimes areas surrounding the sore may be black where the tissue has died. Infections are commonplace in grade 3 bed sores. Often antibiotics are required and any dead tissue may need to be removed by a trained healthcare professional. Grade 3 bed sores can take up to four months to heal providing the correct treatment is given.
  • Grade 4 – This is the most serious stage where the sores are very severe. A grade 4 pressure sore can even affect ligaments and muscles. All of the above symptoms are present as in Grade 3 such as, red, swollen, hot area with pus and infection present. The skin will have turned black where the lack of blood flow has caused the tissue to die and the sore is big and deep, often so deep that muscle tissue and bone are sometimes visible. These sores need immediate attention and treatment and sometimes even surgery. At this stage if left, amputation may be necessary as gangrene and / or blood poisoning could occur which could lead to death. Grade 4 pressure ulcers can take years to heal and recover from.

Apart from these four main stages of bed sores, there are another two stages:

  • Unstageable – This is when the bottom of the sore cannot be seen and it is unknown how deep it is. Only once a doctor has cleaned it out can they decide what stage or grade the sore is.
  • Suspected Deep Tissue Injury – This is where on the surface the sore appears to be that of a grade one or two, but below the skin, it is a grade three or four.

As you can see, although it’s maybe possible a grade 1 pressure sore may occur even with the best care in place, for it to go on to develop into grade 2, 3 or 4, well, there is just no excuse! With proper care a grade 1 pressure sore would be dealt with immediately and effectively to prevent it developing any further, and the patients or residents care plan may be improved further to prevent it from re-occurring. Certainly grade 2 pressure sore compensation, grade 3 or grade 4 pressure sore compensation could be claimed as it is an obvious sign of neglect and a breach of any medical or care staff’s duty of care to the patient or resident for their sores to have gotten so bad on top of them developing in the first place.

Contact Legal Expert for free help and advice if you or a loved one wants to make a bed sores compensation claim.

Eligibility to make a Bed Sores Compensation Claim

Pressure sore claims can be made by the injured person themselves, or by someone on behalf of the injured person if they are physically or mentally unable to themselves.

To make a successful bed sores compensation claim, certain criteria is important in strengthening your case, such as:

  • Proving that the pressure sore was preventable.
  • Showing that you received substandard care.
  • Proving that the risk assessment was inadequate.
  • Showing that there was a lack of care such as infrequent or inadequate monitoring.
  • Being able to show that repositioning was infrequent.
  • Stating bandages or plasters were applied incorrectly or the wrong type.
  • To mention the type of mattress or cushion supplied if they were not the high-specification foam materials advised to use in the prevention of pressure sores.

Legal Expert have years of experience in dealing with pressure sore compensation claims and will be able to investigate and gather the correct evidence needed to prove who is liable for your or your loved ones pressure ulcers. We know who is to blame for your suffering and will use our expertise to ensure you receive the compensation award you deserve.

Pressure Sore Compensation NHS

If you or a loved one has suffered with a pressure sore due to the negligence of the NHS, then a complaint can be made against them and they can be sued for compensation. It is advised to go through the NHS complaints procedure first, however, you do not have to do this in order to take legal action, and can start proceedings to claim compensation straight away if you so wish, but it may be useful in order to gather more information about the case by going through their complaints procedure. To start legal action against the NHS, the complaint needs to be within three years of the incident taking place.

The NHS Litigation Authority (NHS LA) would usually represent the NHS in cases where compensation for hospital negligence is being sought. More often than not, when the NHS LA get involved, the cases do not reach court, in fact, less than 2% of cases that are led by the NHS LA go to court. The other 98% of cases are either dropped by the claimant, or settled out of court. The NHS LA keep a record of information on a database about all of the compensation claims brought against the NHS, this database also includes any potential claims or threats of legal action being taken against them.

Legal Expert can help and advise you on the best course of action to take regarding making a pressure sore compensation NHS claim, and even represent you if you so wish to ensure the best possible outcome and a successful claim.

How much can I claim for bed sores compensation?

Due to a huge variation in severity of bed sores and pressure ulcers, and the number of different circumstances in which they could occur, it is impossible to give an exact answer to this question. Certainly we’d advise you to be careful of anyone stating that you will definitely receive a certain amount for a pressure sores compensation claim as no-one can guarantee you an amount at this stage. Bed sores and pressure ulcers will affect different people in different ways and the recovery times and affect they have on a person’s wellbeing and quality of life can differ a great deal.

We can give you an estimate of the average compensation award that you may receive, but we must stress that any figure we give you at this point is just to give you an idea of what might be possible and is not guaranteed in anyway.

Contact Legal Expert for more information and advice regarding your individual compensation claim case.

A Guide to No Win No Fee Bed Sores Compensation Claims

The solicitors at Legal Expert work on a No Win No Fee basis. We do not require our clients to pay any legal costs and fees if their case is unsuccessful. In fact, throughout the whole claiming process, our clients are not expected to make any payments to us whatsoever. If, or when the case is successful, we simply take a small percentage out of the compensation award amount.

Our No Win No Fee policy enables clients to make a claim for the compensation they are deserving of without any stress or worry of gambling their finances.

Please see the link under the ‘useful links’ section that gives a more in depth guide as to how our No Win No Fee policy works.

How Legal Expert can help you make Pressure Sores Compensation Claims

Legal Expert is a team of solicitors that specialise in the personal injury claim industry and have a wealth of experience in dealing with all kinds of cases regarding hospital and medical care negligence.

If you give us a call, we can give you free advice, and if you’d like, book you in for a free consultancy session. During this session, you have the option to speak freely and ask as many questions as you need to regarding making a bed sores compensation claim. We will explain the whole process of making a claim with us to you so that you are clear of what will and could happen. We will also use this time to gather information from you regarding your case so that we can assess if you have a legitimate cause for making your claim.

This consultancy session is free and does not put you under any obligation to let us represent you in anyway whatsoever. However, if you choose us to make your compensation claim on your behalf, we will then proceed with legal action against the party liable for your pain and suffering.

You may be offered a free local medical if we feel it would be beneficial to your case, but this would be discussed in more detail later on.

Why Choose Us For Your Claim?

Legal Expert is a friendly, honest and reliable personal injury claims specialist team that have a fantastic track record of successful compensation claims, often securing the maximum payout amounts for our clients.

Call us on 0800 073 8804 and we will do our best to help and advise you in the best way that we can. If you choose us to represent you and make your compensation claim on your behalf, you can rest assure that we will work tirelessly in order to gather plenty of evidence and facts surrounding your individual case to build you a really strong lawsuit. We work as quickly and as efficiently as we can and will keep you informed every step of the way. You will not need to worry or stress over your compensation claim, we do all that for you so that you can just concentrate on yourself and your recovery.

Useful Links

Citizens Advice

This is really useful for finding out how to make a complaint about negligence within the NHS, taking legal action, claiming compensation and time limits.

NHS

NHS guide on pressure sores including what they are, how they are caused, recommended treatment and how to prevent them.

NICE

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) sets out guidelines alongside the Royal College of Nurses on how to prevent or treat pressure ulcers.

Legal Expert

Legal Expert’s guide explain in more detail how our No Win No Fee policy works and how it could be beneficial to you.

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