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Bed sores - legal issues?

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by mrsapple, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. mrsapple

    mrsapple Registered User

    Feb 4, 2013
    I've seen a number of newspaper adverts lately regarding the possibility of claiming against CH/NH/Hospital for pressure sores. My mum had two stage two sores and one stage three to four sore. I accepted the CH's comment at the time that as she was totally immobile and doubly incontinent pressure sores were 'inevitable', but I'm now wondering if that really is the case. I had not thought of looking at the legal issues surrounding this, even though at the time I wasn't very happy with the level of care at the CH. Eventually, on the recommendation of the DNs mum was given an air flow mattress and hospital type bed, with twice weekly changing of dressings by DNs, which did seem to help. Mum died in January. I don't like this sort of 'ambulance chasing', but if people don't make a fuss nothing will change. I wondered if anyone else has pursued this?
  2. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    I have no idea of the legalities but I am pretty sure bed sores are preventable. When Dr Guttmann came to Stoke Mandeville after the war to treat spinal patients who had basically been left to rot, he got rid of their bed sores by turning them every two hours among other things (check out The Best of Men with Eddie Marsan).
  3. katek

    katek Registered User

    Jan 19, 2015
    I think it is outrageous of the Care Home simply to say that bed sores are inevitable, and agree with Beate that they are indeed preventable. However, this requires action, such as the two-hourly turning she mentions, and sadly this is not always done, mainly due to lack of staff. The correct mattress is also vital. You say the Care Home did this eventually, but it was probably too little, too late. I would certainly pursue it. I know it won't change what happened to your Mum - but it might help someone else, and you can take some comfort from that, As you say yourself, unless people speak up, nothing will change. Do it in memory of your Mum, to help others.
  4. Saffie

    Saffie Registered User

    Mar 26, 2011
    Near Southampton
    i would say that there are degrees of ifs and buts about preventing pressure sores.
    Yes, they are preventable but this is not always easily achieved and it depends a lot on where on the body they are. Also, If skin is very fragile it is obviously more problematic.

    My husband had a grade 4 pressure sore on his hand and this was despite the efforts of everyone in the home, the DN and the GP to prevent it.

    He also had very fragile skin and even though only ever permitted to sit in what was a beautiful electronic special chair with memory foam cushion for only 4 hours a day, he was often kept in bed when a sore looked like developing on his bottom.
  5. mrsapple

    mrsapple Registered User

    Feb 4, 2013
    Thank you all for your kind replies. Prior to the special mattress and bed being delivered, the CH staff assured me they were turning mum manually every 2 hours day and night. I had felt that they were probably doing their best within the usual limitations, so didn't make a fuss at the time. In the DN's notes it said the worst pressure sore on her hip was 'probably' caused by incorrect use of the hoist which developed into the stage 3/4 sore. I'm going to have to give this a lot more thought before making a decision.
  6. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    I think you are right and sores are both preventable and treatable with the correct equipment and the correct care. It does sound as though they took a long time getting a pressure mattress for someone in her physical condition and if you have a copy of the DN's notes about the hip pressure sore then this is excellent evidence. It does sound as there was neglect.

    I too am looking for a solicitor who will take on neglect so if you have any luck please let me know
  7. Raggedrobin

    Raggedrobin Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    It must be hard in these situations to know whether or not the best has been done for a patient. I would have thought as so many elderly people get bedsores that it might be quite hard to prove that someone is culpable for that.

    I think it is worth considering which organization you want to sue and what effect that will have. For example, if it is the NHS you sue, there is the question that they will be using public funds and resources to defend themselves. Could their time and money be better spent and will sueing them improve things for anyone else or would it be better to complain in a more constructive way, such as through PALs?

    As to the care home, perhaps if you feel they are at fault, talking to the Care Home Quality Commission about it would be most constructive and helpful for future residents. I don't think the culture of sueing constructively helps to deal with issues.
  8. notsogooddtr

    notsogooddtr Registered User

    Jul 2, 2011
    I agree with Raggedrobbin,a referral to CQC would seem more appropriate than litigation.Neglect is notoriously difficult to prove and legal action takes forever.If you want care to improve for others going forward I think the CQC are your best bet.
  9. Adcat

    Adcat Registered User

    Jun 15, 2014
    Bed sores otherwise known as pressure sores are due to a lack of nursing care. They are totally preventable and should certainly not be occurring in a an institutional environment such as a care home or hospital. Everything should be based on risk assessment. Poor mobility = high risk and preventative measures should be put in place such as air mattress and regular turning as a basic example. Skin should be routinely inspected to ensure integrity and to monitor risk.
    Please seek legal advice if only to raise the issue to prevent it occurring to others.
    Take care x

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