The Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team has recently agreed the settlement of a claim against Frimley Park Hospital for negligent care that led our client to develop numerous pressure sores during a series of admissions over several years.
Our client had diabetes and an associated history of vascular disease that was known to the hospital which should have recognised that this history placed our client at high risk of developing pressure sores. There are protocols in place for all patients to be assessed when they are admitted to hospital, to identify those at particular risk of pressure sores and to take steps to mitigate the risk of sores developing. These steps include, for example, providing specialist mattresses and other aids that reduce exposure to pressure. Such patients also need careful skin monitoring.
On repeated occasions, those protocols were not followed correctly in our client's case. As a result, his risk profile was not considered or was wrongly completed and, consequently, specialist equipment was not provided or careful monitoring undertaken until after his sores had already developed. Our client suffered a series of sores following his initial admission that quickly became serious and took between nine and 18 months to heal. After fracturing his hip in a fall, our client was admitted to hospital again where he developed a further pressure sore that lasted for a number of months.
We obtained expert evidence that the basic standards of nursing care in relation to pressure sore risk assessment and management had not been followed and these failures had led to the development of our client's pressure sores. If our client been treated properly, it is likely that all of the sores he suffered would have been avoided. They certainly would have been identified and managed as soon as they had started to develop rather than only being identified once they were already quite significant.
We wrote to the hospital to set out the allegations of negligence in our client's nursing care. Following investigations by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) with the hospital, it admitted that it had failed to meet the minimum level of acceptable care in our client's case and that the pressure sores should have been avoided.
We offered to settle our client's claim for £17,500 plus his reasonable legal costs. That offer was accepted after a short period of negotiation.
Andrew Clayton, associate in the clinical negligence team who ran this case said: “There are very clear guidelines in place nationally for risk management of pressure sores and, as a patient with vascular disease, our client was at high risk of developing pressure sores during his admission and this should have been identified and a management plan put in place. There were significant failings in his care which left him with very unpleasant pressure sores that took a long time to heal and, when combined with his other medical problems, made life very difficult for him. Sadly, this is one of a number of similar cases where required assessments are either not being done or are wrongly completed.”