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Pressure Sores

What are Pressure sores?
A pressure sore, which is also known as a 'bed sore' or 'pressure ulcer', is an ulcerated area of skin caused by irritation and continuous pressure on a part of the body. They can occur when an area of skin is placed under pressure, for example, when a person spends a significant amount of time immobile in the same position. 

  • Pressure ulcers can be very painful and can take a very long time to heal.
  • Pressure ulcers develop around prominent bony areas like the hips, lower back, tailbone, heels, back of the head and elbows.
  • Pressure ulcers can range in severity from patches of discoloured skin to open wounds that expose the underlying bone or muscle, causing infection, sepsis and death.  They are far easier to prevent than to treat, because once the skin breaks down, it takes a considerable amount of time to heal and is prone to further infection.

Who is most at risk?
Those unable to move without assistance and confined to a bed or chair are at much greater risk. This can often include Nursing Home patients, who are elderly or have limited mobility. People over 70 years old are particularly vulnerable to pressure ulcers, as they are more likely to have mobility problems and ageing of the skin.

Those at risk can also include anyone recovering from major surgery due to an inability to move, or reduced capacity to recognise arising problems. It is estimated that around 1 in 20 people who are admitted to hospital with a sudden illness will develop a pressure ulcer (figures obtained from NHS online.) 

If you think that you or your loved one is at risk, call our specialist team on 0333 003 1909. If you prefer to receive a call back, please complete this online form and we will be in touch.

What do the guidelines say?
The NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) Guidelines state that all patients should have a risk assessment for pressure ulcers within the first six hours of care, which must be documented. Initial and on-going pressure ulcer assessment is the responsibility of a registered healthcare professional.

The risk should be assessed by reference to risk factors such as pressure, level of mobility, friction, sensory impairment, continence, level of consciousness, illness, comorbidity, posture, cognition, previous pressure damage, extremes of age, nutrition and hydration status and moisture to the skin.

Seriousness is measured on a Grade 1 to 4 scale, ranging from redness, induration and hardness (Grade 1) to extensive tissue destruction, necrosis or damage to muscle, bone and supporting structures with or without full skin loss (Grade 4). 

What should be done?
If a person is assessed as being vulnerable to pressure ulcer formation, mobilising and repositioning should be considered. Patients who have ulcers should always be mobilised and repositioned if they cannot do this for themselves. They should avoid sitting or lying on the ulcer. Records should be kept on a repositioning chart.  

Patients who are at risk, and those who have developed pressure ulcers, should have 24 hour access to pressure relieving interventions and devices, such as alternating pressure mattresses or high specification foam mattresses.

Any pressure ulcers should be documented in detail, including the cause, site, dimensions, seriousness, signs of infection, appearance, surrounding skin and odour.

Treatment of Grade 1 or Grade 2 pressure ulcers involves creating an optimum wound healing environment using modern dressings such as hydrocolloids, hydrogels, foams, films, alginates and soft silicones.  

What can NewLaw Solicitors do to help?
Bed sores and pressure ulcers seem to be a growing problem in the UK. 

NHS guidelines are clear on the preventative treatment methods for bed sores, and so pressure ulcers are an indication of a lack of proper nursing care. The consequences of the condition are extremely unpleasant for the patient.

To find out if you or a family member are entitled to claim for the development of pressure ulcers, talk to our medical negligence claim solicitors today on 0333 003 1909

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