Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores and pressure sores, can be debilitating, painful and potentially fatal if left untreated. However, with appropriate nursing care pressure ulcers can be prevented most of the time.
Whilst there are certain circumstances where a pressure ulcer is unlikely to be avoidable, in many cases, pressure ulcers develop due to inadequate nursing care or risk assessments.
A Pressure ulcer develops when there is unrelieved pressure on the skin and underlying tissue for extended periods of time. This is often the result of prolonged pressure on a particular area of the body, the most common areas include:
- sacrum or buttocks
- lower back
When there is prolonged pressure on a particular area of the body, the blood flow through to the skin of that area is disrupted. This results in the breakdown of skin causing a pressure ulcer to form.
The most prominent cause of pressure sores is a significant lack of mobility over a period of time. This can be due to a person being bed-bound or wheelchair-bound, recovering from surgery, or simply by laying or sitting in the same position for a long time.
Grades of Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers are divided into four grades depending on the severity of the ulcer:
- Grade 1: Discolouration of the skin.
- Grade 2: Partial skin loss, presents as a wound or a blister.
- Grade 3: A deep wound which presents like a deep crater on the skin.
- Grade 4: A very deep wound that may reach the muscle or bone with extensive necrosis extending to the underlying tissue.
Prevention of Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers can be more serious than anticipated. In most cases pressure ulcers can be prevented by:
- Avoiding prolonged periods of pressure on any one area of the skin.
- Regularly repositioning (if bed bound).
- Using a pressure relieving mattress, which is specifically air-filled to relieve pressure on certain areas of the body.
- Using pressure relieving aids such as ring cushions or heel cushions.
- Regularly washing and drying the skin to keep it clean.
- Maintaining a balanced diet and drinking plenty of fluids.
- Regular monitoring of the skin to detect early signs of pressure damage and seek medical care if skin changes are noticed.
How we can help
Our medical negligence team has a wealth of experience in dealing with claims for medical negligence resulting in individuals suffering pressure ulcers.
We have acted and continue to act for many clients who have developed pressure ulcers due to negligent treatment of hospital, care home or nursing home staff.
If you or a loved one has sustained a pressure ulcer in hospital, care home or nursing home you may have a potential claim for medical negligence. Contact our medical negligence team for advice on 0121 355 0011.