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16 Mar 2023

Clinical Negligence

Are Pressure Sores A Sign Of Neglect?

If you suspect clinical negligence is the cause of a pressure sore, you could be entitled to a compensation claim.

A pressure sore is a lesion caused by constant contact or friction on an area of skin, and can ‘affect any part of the body that’s under pressure’. 

Pressure sores commonly occur in people who are bedbound or immobile, and can be a serious problem for people of any age, but especially elderly individuals.

Early symptoms of a pressure sore can include the skin becoming discoloured, pain or itchiness in the area, and discoloured patches that don’t turn white when pressed to name a few. Symptoms that occur later on can be much more severe, including visible open wounds or blisters, as well as deep wounds that require regular monitoring to reduce the risk associated with pressure sores.  

In short, pressure sores are not always a sign of neglect, and every case should be treated uniquely. That said, if you suspect that you or someone that you care about has developed a pressure sore due to clinical negligence, then it’s important to seek legal advice and support.

With the right care, pressure sores can be prevented in the majority of cases through preventative measures. Generally speaking, nurses are primarily responsible for preventative care, and ‘the development of pressure ulcers is commonly seen as a direct reflection of the quality of nursing care’, which is why you might suspect that a pressure sore is a sign of neglect.

While a pressure sore can be a result of a person not being positioned correctly, turned, or given the right skin care or nutrition, there are other circumstances where pressure sores can occur that you will need to bear in mind.

When trying to determine the cause of a pressure sore, it’s important to consider:

  1. Medical conditions 
  2. Skin conditions
  3. The person’s perspective of their treatment
  4. The person’s age 

1. Medical Conditions 

The first factor you will need to consider is any medical conditions that the person with a pressure sore has.

As we’ve already mentioned, pressure sores are more common in people that are bedbound or cannot easily move.

Additionally, people with medical conditions that affect the blood flow through the body, such as type 2 diabetes, are at a higher risk of developing pressure sores as a result. 

That said, if someone with these conditions develops a pressure sore, their medical history could indicate or contribute to the reason why. 

2. Skin Conditions

Another factor to take into account is any skin conditions that the person has.

For instance, if the person in question has a skin condition such as Focal hyperhidrosis, where the body sweats excessively, there is a higher risk of them developing a pressure sore.

Additionally, moist skin due to incontinence can also increase the risk of a pressure sore developing.  

3. The Person’s Perspective Of Their Treatment

One of the most important factors to take into consideration is the person’s perspective of their treatment. 

While some people, especially elderly individuals can also be vulnerable, many people will have an understanding of how they have been treated and looked after. 

For instance, have they had their concerns listened to when in pain, or have they had complaints about their care? Has there been an acknowledgement of their pressure sore?

By determining the person’s perspective of their treatment, you can gain a better understanding of whether they believe the cause of their pressure sores is neglect.

Collecting this information will be useful later down the line when you seek legal advice from a clinical negligence solicitor

4. The Person’s Age 

Last, but not least, you will need to consider the person’s age, as pressure sores are a common problem associated with the elderly

In fact, ‘people over 70 years old are particularly vulnerable to pressure ulcers’, emphasising the role age can play in a person developing one.

This largely comes down to the fact that elderly people tend to be less mobile, and also have ageing skin which are contributing factors to bear in mind. 

How We Can Help 

At Harding Evans, our Clinical Negligence team is well-versed in handling sensitive medical issues and complaints.

We believe that pressure sores can be prevented in all but a few circumstances. If you believe that you or someone that you care about has suffered a pressure sore as a result of clinical negligence, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

To establish whether a negligence claim is possible, please contact a member of our team today.

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