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Claiming compensation for pressure ulcers and bedsores

Pressure ulcers, also known as decubitus ulcers or bedsores, are a major problem in many British hospitals and nursing homes. They occur when the skin and underlying tissue is damaged altering the blood flow.

The areas usually affected are the parts of the body over bony prominences such as:-

  • the coccyx
  • the lower back
  • the buttocks
  • the elbows
  • the hips
  • the heels

How pressure ulcers (bedsores) are caused

Often pressure ulcers will appear after a person has spent a considerable period laying in bed in one position hence the proper title, decubitus ulcers from the Latin decumbere “to lie down”.

Typically, a pressure ulcer will appear as a reddened area of skin. However, the real damage is occurring beneath the surface and as the pressure ulcer progresses a crater will appear which will then be prone to infection.

Pressure ulcers are graded from 1 to 4 according to their severity. Grade 4 is the most serious and occurs where the skin and tissue has been severely damaged, sometimes exposing the underlying muscle and even bone. This can lead to very deep seated infections which are difficult to eradicate.

All patients in hospitals or residents in nursing in homes should be assessed as to the risk of developing pressure ulcers according to the Waterlow Scale.

The Waterlow Scale

This is a system whereby points are awarded according to a patient’s weight, skin condition, sex, age, mobility and continence etc.

Wet skin in particular creates a particular risk of pressure ulcers because of the shearing effect of any fibres, e.g. bed sheets, rubbing on wet skin.

The Waterlow Scale goes up to 64 but any patient or resident with a score of 10 or above will be considered at risk of developing pressure sores. These scores should be recorded regularly and a care plan devised to minimise the risk of pressure sores developing. Typically, counter measures will include the use of pressure relieving mattresses and a regular turning regime by the carers which should be recorded.

Hopkins can help

We have successfully pursued claims for our clients who have developed pressure sores where there was found to be inadequate care plans, no records of turning regimes and an extreme case where a person was provided with an ill-fitting wheelchair which resulted in pressure sores.

If you, a friend or relative have suffered a bedsore or pressure ulcer and would like to make a claim for compensation, contact Hopkins in Mansfield or Nottingham. We will be happy to help and can make home visits if necessary.

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