All health and care providers have a duty to protect the health of those in their charge.
One aspect of this care is the need to ensure that patients and/or service users do not suffer pressure sores as a result of lying or sitting while remaining in a static position. Pressure sores are often underestimated; however, if not remedied effectively, lesions of this nature can become infected, leading to serious health consequences. The physical and psychological impact of pressure sores can be considerable and hence carers, nurses, and other health practitioners are expected to follow best practice to avoid such eventualities.
What is a pressure sore?
Pressure sores (commonly referred to as bedsores) are ulcers of the skin caused by prolonged pressure and are a common experience for anyone confined to a chair or bed for extended periods of time. The underlying cause is a lack of blood supply to the skin as a result of the pressure. Whereas those with greater mobility would naturally move to relieve pressure building up, individuals with impaired mobility may not be able to and hence may be at a greater risk of suffering this type of skin damage.
Individuals at risk of pressure sores should be regularly assessed to ensure any lesion is dealt with correctly, and also to make sure that the necessary mitigations are in place to avoid them in the first place. A pressure sore is characterised by:
- Discolouration which does not turn white when pressed
- A patch of skin that feels warm, spongy or hard
If left untreated, pressure sores can rapidly become worse, leading to serious health complications. Pressure sores are typically scored in terms of their severity, with the above early symptoms being classified as category one. Category two refers to a pressure sore which has become an open wound or has blistered. Category three means the wound is affecting deeper layers of skin. And if left untreated for sufficient time, the wound may reach the underlying bone and muscle (category four).
What are the health implications of a pressure sore?
Pressure sores, if detected early, can be easily treated (by cleaning and if necessary, the removal of dead tissue, dressing, and application of antibiotic cream), and changes can be implemented to prevent any worsening; thus, allowing healing to occur. In more serious cases, infections can lead to severe pain, fever, blood poisoning, cellulitis, bone and joint infections, and sepsis. For patients who are already in a weakened medical state due to illness or infirmity, pressure sores can cause a domino effect of health complications which further compromise the wellbeing of the individual.
Can I bring a claim for pressure sore damage due to medical negligence?
To bring a claim for pressure sore damage due to medical negligence, it will be necessary to provide evidence that:
- The medical care you received was below a satisfactory standard (i.e. that another healthcare professional would not have made the same error), and;
- This negligence caused you damage or injury.
To prove your case, we will compile evidence, including medical or care records, and seek expert medical opinion.
What may a claim for pressure sore injury due to medical negligence cover?
Claims following pressure sore injuries due to medical negligence may cover two areas of loss:
- Pain and suffering due to the injury; and
- Specific costs resulting from the injury caused. This may cover costs already incurred, such as transport, accommodation, and medical treatment, and expected future expenses, such as physical therapy and care costs. The costs you receive will be based on the precise injuries suffered and the circumstances of the case.
How Lavelle Partners can assist you in bringing a claim
- Lavelle Partners have successfully managed many cases of injury or disease caused by pressure sores related to medical negligence.
- Our personal injury team, headed by partner, Avril Scally, who herself has over 15 years’ experience in medical negligence claims, place client care at the centre of everything they do.
- From the first moment you speak to one of our solicitors, we will listen to your case carefully and with empathy and will only recommend advancing your case if we believe you have a valid case.
- We have both the legal expertise and understanding of the real-life challenges faced by individuals and their families following such events.
- Our solicitors will manage the process entirely on your behalf; compiling the information necessary for your case, including medical notes and managing the submission of your medical negligence claim.
By allowing us to handle your claim on your behalf, you can focus on what is most important, your recovery and care, or that of your family member or loved one.
For further information on making a claim for pressure sore injury resulting from medical negligence in Ireland, please contact Lavelle Partners in confidence on (01) 644 5800 or email Avril Scally at [email protected]
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002.