Bed Sores – A Frequently Avoidable Injury

PUBLISHED 15.09.15

Bed sores are a very painful, and potentially life threatening injury. They were responsible for 29,000 deaths globally in 2013. Bed sores occur when pressure on soft tissue restricts blood flow to that area.

The area of tissue is then starved of blood and oxygen, leading to them becoming inflamed and ulcerated. This can lead to necrosis, the death of the tissue. The death of tissue can spread and, in the most catastrophic circumstances, can lead to loss of tendon, bone or muscle and can cause death. Bed sores are graded from 1 to 4 depending on their severity, 4 being the most severe.

Because bed sores are caused by pressure, they are commonly found in hospital environments. In hospital people can be incapacitated or unable to move without assistance and so their bodyweight can remain on one area for a prolonged period of time, creating the pressure that can lead to a sore. Because of this risk, hospital staff are required to identify those at risk of pressure sores and turn them so they may redistribute their weight and thus relieve any areas that may develop sores.

Hospitals are well aware of this risk and so there are standardised checklists and charts that nursing staff are required to complete to ensure that pressure sores do not develop in recognised ‘pressure areas’ that are at risk. The reason that these charts have been developed is because bed sores are almost always avoidable through the provision of proper care. It is therefore very common that when someone suffers a bed sore in hospital they have suffered it due to negligence in their care.

Bed sores can leave a lasting legacy. They can require surgery and lead to infections and conditions such as gangrene. They are painful and can leave significant scarring and skin weakness and leave you vulnerable to further sores.

Case Study

In a recent claim, we represented a gentleman who was admitted to hospital with a rare infection which left him unable to walk or feel his legs. He was treated for his infection but his nursing care during his recovery was substandard. The checklists regarding checks of his pressure areas had been completed when no action had actually been taken, he had not been turned and the areas had not in fact been checked. This led to his charts reading at one point that his pressure areas were all intact and healthy, but at the next check he had a grade 3 pressure ulcer on his sacrum.

He had an added complication in that he suffered a pulmonary embolism. This is again a potentially fatal condition that develops in those who are incapacitated. It occurs when a blood clot develops in the legs (a deep vein thrombosis) which detaches and travels to the lungs. It is again mostly preventable through simple treatment in the form of medication, but he was not given that medication and he developed a pulmonary embolism.

Because of the issues in his care he instructed QualitySolicitors Dunn & Baker to pursue a medical negligence claim on his behalf. His injuries, which will leave a long lasting legacy, could have been avoided simply through turning him and giving him medication. We secured compensation for our clients as a result of the hospital’s negligence.

If you have suffered a bed sore whilst in hospital, contact one of our expert team to discuss whether we may be able to assist you in bringing a claim.