Pressure sores are not a new phenomenon yet they continue to plague the disabled, elderly, and chronically ill. The shocking statistic is that 95% of pressure sores are preventable with good and reasonable care. Sadly, the chances of suffering a pressure sore depends on which hospital you stay in, making it yet another postcode lottery.
What is a pressure sore?
Pressure sores are open wounds that form as a result of prolonged pressure applied to the skin.
When are you most at risk?
You are most at risk of developing a pressure sore:
- If you have reduced mobility or immobility
- If you have any sensory impairments
- If you are under 5 years old or over 65 years old
- If you suffer from vascular diseases
- If you suffer from a terminal illness
- If you have a poor diet or have had recent weight loss
- If you are dehydrated
- If you suffer from diabetes
- If you are paraplegic
- If you are incontinent
- If you have recently undergone any orthopaedic surgery
It is therefore really important that the hospital or community care team is aware of any risks if the above factors apply.
How to prevent a pressure sore?
The steps to preventing pressure sores from developing are quite straight forward but if these aren’t applied then the result can be disastrous. Once you are admitted to hospital, a risk assessment needs to be done and if you are deemed to be at risk then regular skin assessments need to be carried out.
Some other key recommendations include:
- All patients who are vulnerable to pressure sores should at the least be placed on a high specification foam mattress or put on a turning regime.
- For patients who are having surgery, there should be a high specification foam theatre mattress.
In simple terms patients who are at risk should not stay in the same position for more than 2 hours, their skin should be checked regularly and specialist mattresses or pillows should be used.
How serious are pressure sores?
According to the NHS, just under half a million people in the UK will develop at least one pressure sore in one year. As outlined above, this is most commonly individuals with pre-existing health conditions.
Pressure sores are extremely serious. Even if they don’t develop further complications they can still disable patients. Often they develop on heels or the lower back which makes standing or sitting very painful. For elderly patients who already have mobility problems, this additional debility can be disastrous. When complications do develop it can lead to bone or joint infections, sepsis, and ultimately death.
The tragic fact is that almost all instances are preventable which means that appropriate care is clearly not being provided.
Is the right care being provided for your family and friends?
We have put together an easy guide to pressure sores for inpatients at hospitals or nursing homes. Click here to view this.
Find out more
If you or your family have been affected by a road traffic accident, please contact our team of specialist solicitors on +44 (0)20 7833 4433 to discuss how we may be able to assist, and the road traffic claims process.
To find out more about the different injuries, accidents, and claims that are commonly encountered by our team visit our Medical Mondays hub.