Introduction to Pressure Ulcers & Expert Witness Cases
Pressure ulcers are a serious breach of the duty and standard of care by health care providers in ensuring the health and safety of patients. There does come a time when you need to seek legal aid due to the complications a pressure ulcer has caused a patient, be it temporary illness, permanent illness or even death. Pressure ulcers are a major health risk for every adult patient that are admitted to hospitals, care homes or surgeries. They can become infected and lead to further complications if they aren’t treated effectively. At GMS Associates we have helped thousands of individuals receive the necessary compensation and legal aid from being ill-treated in hospital, surgeries or care homes. Our legal expert Wyn Glencross [EN (G) RGN MA (LLM)] is an independent tissue viability nurse consultant and casework supervisor to patients throughout the UK.
What is a pressure ulcer?
Pressure ulcers, which are also known as decubitus ulcers or more commonly known as bedsores, are typically localised injuries to the skin and/or tissue that is underlying usually over a bony area due to the result of pressure or rubbing (friction) for extended periods of time. Pressure ulcers are more commonly found on the sacrum, heels of feet, hips and coccyx, but we have seen them appear on elbows, knees, ankles and the back of the cranium, all of which can be affected areas. The severity of pressure ulcers can also vary from minor skin reddening, known as Stage I, to severe deep crates down to muscle and bone, known as Stage IV.
GMS and Associates who are board certified in the UK are frequently called upon to determine and testify whether any potential breaches have occurred in the standard of a patient’s care.
Our team of consultants not only have the required knowledge of their fields, but also know exactly what is required by solicitors in a care report.
Every consultant attends conferences and courses to ensure their knowledge is current and relevant and all are registered with their professional bodies – these include the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Health Professions Council.
Accredited by Professional UK Bodies
What is an example breach of standard of care?
Example 1: Firstly failing to prevent / divert an avoidable pressure sore:
An 80 year old woman who is currently being cared in a nursing home, developers a red area, then blisters on the back of her heels. Although the nursing staff takes a note of this whilst she is currently being showered, they do nothing about it. After 1-2 weeks, the sores have gotten worst and later there is a large open wound of which yellow drainage, a foul smelling odor is apparent, suggestive of an infection. The woman then ends up in hospital extremely poorly with septic and requires operative treatment to stand chance of survival, but eventually dies of sepsis (blood infection).
Can Pressure Ulcers be Prevented?
In short, yes, but a structured process needs to be followed to ensure that everything is done by the hospital or care home to ensure that necessary precautions have been taken. Here are just some of the duties and standards of care which can sometimes be missed by health care service providers;
- Pressure Ulcer Risk Assessment
- This will involve the carers / nurses to conduct a structured risk assessment on admission and as frequently and as regularly needed based on the patients activity and acuity.
- Skin Assessment
- Standard of care also requires providers of health care services to perform necessary assessments to determine the integrity and health of the patient’s skin to determine the necessary steps required to ensure the care plan is followed through in the correct manner.
- Skin Care
- Furthermore, the standard of care requires providers to care for the skin of patients in a manner that prevents breakdowns such as blistering and ulcers.
- Nutrition can play a vital role in ensuring the maintenance of skin. Typically a decline in nutritional status can lead to skin breakdown and the standard of care is to ensure patients are receiving adequate nutrition to stop this from occurring.
- The standard of care illustrates clearly that the carer is required to frequently and regularly reposition patients to prevent sustained pressure from being applied to the same effected area for an extended period of time.
What is the next step for you?
Simply fill in the contact form located on our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch directly with an independent tissue viability nurse consultant, who can walk you through the necessary next steps and ensure you seek the answers you’re looking for.