Our client had a history of dementia but was otherwise fit and well, prior to contracting Covid in August 2021. Following two falls at home whilst positive for Covid-19, he was admitted to hospital. Prior to his admission his skin was completely intact, and he was able to walk independently.
Elderly and immobile patients are at substantial risk of developing skin lesions and ulcers, which are most frequently brought on by unrelieved constant pressure on one part of the body; bony areas are most susceptible. Whilst a patient is in hospital, nurses have a duty of care to be aware of the risks and to understand and implement the necessary steps to prevent pressure sores developing. They should carry out regular risk assessments, review skin integrity and reposition the patient frequently enough to try and prevent the development of pressure ulcers.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, our client’s family was only able to visit infrequently. When they were able to see him, they raised concerns with nursing staff about his skin, in particular that he was not being repositioned frequently enough.
Unfortunately, our client developed grade 2 pressure sores on each of his heels and a grade 2 pressure sore on his buttock. It took 6 months for the pressure sores on his heels to heal, however his the sore on his buttock is still not healed 15 months later.
Our client’s family instructed us to investigate the lack of care that had led to his wounds. In our review of the case, we obtained the patient records which indicated that the nursing staff rarely repositioned our client during the period of his admission. We also obtained expert evidence that supported this contention.
Unfortunately, this failure to prevent our client suffering from pressure sores has had a significant impact on his quality of life; he is now bedridden, which has negatively impacted his dementia prognosis.
The trust’s failings have left an elderly, but previously active, man bedbound and still suffering from a painful pressure ulcer more than a year on. The failings have also contributed to his deteriorating mental health, due to the limitations to his life that he now faces.
Natalie Blunden, associate at Shoosmiths’ Thames Valley office (Reading) says:
“In this case, our investigations, supported by our expert evidence, highlight a serious lack of knowledge and understanding surrounding pressure sore prevention and care. As well as having a huge impact on this man’s life, his family have also been affected as they now have to provide enhanced care and are unable to enjoy the quality of life that they had with him previously.”
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2023