Pressure ulcers remain one of the most common hospital-acquired injuries. Last week healthcare organisations up and down the country marked national Stop the Pressure week.
The ‘Stop the Pressure’ campaign was launched nationwide by NHS England in November 2016 with the aim of creating a cultural shift and to eliminate pressure ulcers in acute, community and mental health provider settings.
Where are we 7 years on?
Initially the programme was limited to frontline staff, NHS England and the Academic Health Science Network to encourage Trusts to develop plans to highlight work done to prevent pressure ulcers as well as signposting areas for exploration. Since then, the programme has attracted support and attention from many in the healthcare industry who are able to provide clinicians with more training in prevention, tools and resources and support in the clinical setting.
The programme aims to spread awareness of pressure ulcers and to reduce the stigma surrounding them. They have created the acronym ‘CONTACT’ in an effort to make information and advice simple and easy to understand. ‘CONTACT’ stands for:
C – start the conversation, connect, communicate, show that you care
O – consider options, observe, discuss, agree
N – be needs led, notice what’s important
T – teamwork, talking to people, listening, engaging and teaching
A – ask questions, adjust and adapt treatment plans
C – be clinically curious – adjust, challenge, change
T – take action, be the change that is needed
Not only does this acronym provide an easy way to spread awareness of pressure ulcers, but in a healthcare setting it reminds professionals what they should do to avoid patients developing pressure ulcers.
However, data on the incidence of pressure ulcers continues to be patchy. Data from studies published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) show that the number of people affected by pressure sores is 700,000, of whom 180,000 are newly acquired each year (reported in 2019). The Government website quotes says that treating pressure ulcers costs the NHS more than £1.4 million every day (based on 2017 data), while other published reports put the financial burden of pressure ulcers on the NHS at 4% of expenditure, amounting to between £1.4 and £2.1 billion annually (based on 2004 data).
Unfortunately, in our clinical negligence practice, we continue to hear from patients who are not receiving adequate care to prevent pressure sores. In some cases, this can lead to them being permanently bed bound, simply because they had a hospital admission where they were not repositioned frequently enough or where they were left in bed for long periods, when they could have been allowed and were capable of sitting out.
Natalie Blunden, associate at Shoosmiths’ Thames Valley office (Reading) says:
“Unfortunately, we have a number of cases that highlight a serious lack of knowledge and understanding surrounding pressure sore prevention and care. If a patient develops a pressure sore this can have a huge impact on their life, which inevitably will also impact their family and their quality of life. I hope that in continuing to promote Stop the Pressure patients will not have to go through this pain and suffering”.
If you or a loved one has developed a pressure ulcer because of substandard care or neglect, talk to us. We are experienced in handling sensitive cases. We understand you may reservations about reporting your concerns, particularly if your loved one remains in the care of the nursing staff you are reporting.
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 2024