Penningtons Manches LLP has just settled a case against Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust after an elderly patient developed numerous pressure sores during his admission to hospital.
On 28 June 2011 he was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital via the Accident and Emergency Department after suffering a fall at home. He was later transferred to Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup.
During his stay in hospital, there were various issues concerning the nursing care that he received. After being discharged, he was noted to have suffered numerous pressure sores including a grade 3/4 sore to his right heel, grade 2 sore to his sacrum and a grade 3/4 sore to his toe.
Sadly he passed away suddenly around six months after his initial admission to hospital. Following his death, his daughter raised concerns about her father’s treatment and the standard of nursing care that he received while in hospital. She was concerned that this poor care had led to the development of multiple pressure sores and his subsequent deterioration.
Following investigations, the defendant trust admitted that there were failings in the nursing care provided to her father. It conceded that some of the risk assessments performed were not sufficient and that the nursing care fell short particularly when it came to steps that should have been taken to avoid the development of pressure sores. However, the defendant argued that, while there had been failings in the nursing care provided, there was a significant likelihood that her father would have developed pressure sores even with the right standard of nursing care. The medical expert evidence obtained demonstrated that this was not the case and that, had the patient received the right standard of nursing care, the pressure sores would have been avoided.
After some negotiation with the defendant, a good settlement was achieved on behalf of his daughter. Emma Beeson, an associate in Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team, who handled the claim, commented: “While we are pleased that the trust made an early admission that its nursing care was substandard, we are concerned at just how many cases we see where basic requirements of nursing care, particularly in elderly patients, are not met. With clear guidelines in place, the number of patients who develop pressure sores is unacceptable. In many cases like this one, compulsory risk assessments are either not done or not done properly, resulting in the onset of avoidable pressure sores. Sadly we are not seeing an improvement in this aspect of nursing care and are acting on a number of claims of this type.”