Pressure sores (also known as pressure ulcers or bed sores) are largely avoidable when basic nursing care is correctly provided, but when problems arise with this care, they can develop. These sores are graded from one to four on their severity, with grade one being the least serious. On occasion an infection may arise in the wound and, if this is either not treated in time, or does not respond to treatment, the only option left may be to amputate the limb to avoid the infection spreading elsewhere and to remove any dead tissue.
Information from a Freedom of Information Act request to the NHS Litigation Authority (now known as NHS Resolution), shows that between 2010 and 2015, the NHS Litigation Authority paid compensation to 17 individuals who, tragically, had a limb amputated due to the development of an avoidable pressure sore. The total expenditure for these injuries, which will include both compensation paid to the injured party and all the legal costs (for both the injured party and defendant trust) was £3,204,510.48.
The enormous human and emotional cost of this loss to those affected and their families is impossible to quantify, but it is clear that, alongside this, the financial cost of these injuries is vast.
Compensation received by these individuals will be used to fund equipment such as wheelchairs or artificial limbs, future care, treatment, suitable vehicles and adaptations to the home to allow wheelchair access. What this demonstrates is that the consequences of poor management of pressure sores are far reaching and, at times, life altering for those affected.
Helen Hammond, senior associate in Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team, who has experience of dealing with pressure sore claims, comments: “Even now after there has been such a focus on zero tolerance for pressure sores, some individuals are still suffering life shattering injuries. We very much hope that a continued emphasis on providing the correct nursing care to avoid the development of pressure sores reduces the number of individuals affected by these painful wounds.
“We have significant experience in representing individuals who have suffered from avoidable pressure sores due to failures in nursing care. If you wish to discuss concerns you have about either your care or the care of a loved one, please contact us for a free initial consultation.”