If a loved one or even yourself needs to stay in a hospital or a care home, you probably expect a high level of care to keep you as comfortable as possible or to help you recover as soon as possible. Vulnerable patients who are not given enough attention can go on to suffer pressure sores (or bedsores or pressure ulcers) which can be uncomfortable, painful and potentially life-threatening. In this article about pressure sore claims, we’ll look at the types of negligence that could lead to pressure sores and explain what you could be compensated for.
If you would like free advice about pressure sore claims, please get in touch. Our advisors offer a no-obligation initial consultation where your claim will be reviewed for free. If your case appears to be strong enough and it’s taken on by a solicitor from our panel, they’ll take on all of the financial risks by working on a No Win, No Fee basis. As a result, you’ll only need to pay for their work if you receive a compensation payout.
Please continue reading to learn more about pressure sores compensation claims or call us on 0800 652 1345 if you’d like to discuss your options right away.
What is a pressure sore?
Pressure sores are ulcers that can appear on any part of the body where continuous pressure is applied. In care and medical settings, this can happen to bed-bound patients or those who sit in chairs or wheelchairs for prolonged periods of time, usually due to disability, illness, or injury.
Pressure sores form when constant pressure on the skin and underlying tissues cuts off circulation and oxygen, leading to tissue damage and breakdown. As explained by the NHS, these sores are most common on bony parts of the body such as the hips, base of the spine, elbows and heels and can be painful, slow to heal, and susceptible to infection. In severe cases, they can even lead to amputation or death.
Pressure sores usually appear over a period of time but, in some cases, can only take a matter of hours to develop.
Initial symptoms of a pressure sore
The early signs that a pressure sore is developing include:
- Discolouration of the skin i.e. blue, purple or red patches.
- Skin that feels warm, hard or spongy in patches.
- Itchiness or pain in the affected area.
- Darker patches of skin that don’t turn white when pressed.
These symptoms may be classified as category 1 pressure ulcers.
More serious pressure sores
Advanced pressure sores can lead to more serious symptoms which can become more and more dangerous. The classification for advanced pressure sores are:
- Category 2 pressure ulcers – open wounds and blisters.
- Category 3 pressure ulcers – deeper wounds that affect deeper layers of the skin.
- Category 4 pressure ulcers – wounds that are so deep they could affect the bone or muscle.
All of the above could lead to symptoms such as a high temperature, worsening pain, red swollen skin, pus coming from the wound, a fast heartbeat and cold skin. If caught early enough, pressure sores can be treated by cleaning and dressing the wound. However, complications can arise that could lead to joint or bone infections and life-threatening conditions including blood poisoning.
Can I sue for pressure sores compensation?
If you believe that you or a loved one has a valid pressure sores claim, the first step is to speak with an experienced solicitor on our panel. Doing so will enable them to assess the likelihood of a pressure sore claim being viable by checking whether:
- The care provided to the claimant fell below what could be reasonably expected in a care or medical environment (negligence); and
- The negligence resulted in the claimant suffering because of a pressure sore.
As you may expect, proving that a medical or care professional was negligent can be quite a complex task. For that reason, any claim will need to be referred to a third-party medical expert for further assessment. After reviewing the facts, they will decide whether the pressure sore could have been avoided had things been done differently and advise you on the best course of action.
Who is liable for pressure sores?
It’s important to realise that most pressure sores can be avoided. As such, if they do occur, they are usually caused by some form of neglect in a care home, hospital etc. However, to be compensated for the suffering caused by a pressure sore, the neglect doesn’t have to be a deliberate act. For example, it may be possible to claim pressure sore compensation where the ulcer was caused by a lack of staff in a care home.
Some scenarios of when a pressure sore claim could be made include:
- The patient was not being moved or turned regularly.
- There was a lack of proper assessment of the patient’s requirements.
- The type of bed provided was not correct or it was under-inflated.
- There weren’t regular checks on the patient’s condition.
- An existing pressure sore was not treated properly and as such became infected.
- The patient’s plaster cast or bedding was too tight.
- Malnutrition meant that the patient was more susceptible to pressure sores.
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a pressure ulcer as a result of medical negligence, and would like advice on liability, please speak with us today.
Should I complain about pressure sores?
If you believe a loved one has suffered pressure sores because of a lack of proper care, you may wish to raise a formal complaint. The NHS has a procedure for doing this. It’s important to understand that there are limited outcomes to a care home or hospital complaint.
Generally, you’ll either be told that nothing was done wrong or you’ll receive an apology if it’s found that something wasn’t done right. This could also lead to procedural changes to stop anybody else from suffering in the same way. While that is a good thing, it won’t lead to a compensation payout for pressure sores. The only way that will happen is if you decide to take legal action yourself.
That said, any response you do receive from a formal complaint could be used as proof to show what happened and why your loved one has suffered.
How much compensation for pressure sores can I claim?
It’s important to think about all the ways that you or your loved one has suffered when claiming pressure sores compensation. That’s because you can only claim once so you must make sure you include everything the first time around.
Claims can be based on any physical or mental injuries (general damages) as well as any expenses incurred (special damages). As such, if your pressure sore claim is successful, you could be compensated for:
- Physical pain and discomfort.
- Distress, anxiety and other forms of psychological suffering.
- Loss of enjoyment of your normal activities and hobbies.
- Lost earnings and future losses for longer-term problems.
- The cost of a carer.
- Remedial medical expenses. This could include treatment and care in a private hospital to give you the best chance of a speedy recovery.
- Travel expenses.
- Adaptations to your home for where more serious pressure sores lead to long-term health problems.
If you decide to work with a solicitor from our panel, they’ll try to get a full understanding of how you’ve suffered. They’ll then use that information to try and secure the highest possible pressure sores settlement available for you.
How does a solicitor know how serious the pressure ulcers are?
To help prove how serious your pressure ulcers are, an independent medical assessment will be needed. This is a requirement for all personal injury claims. A medical expert will examine you, review any medical notes and discuss how you or your loved one has suffered. They’ll then write a report to explain your injuries and your prognosis.
Providing proof for a pressure sores compensation claim
Pressure sore claims are possible against NHS trusts, local authorities or private care or nursing homes. Whoever the claim is against, you’ll usually find that their insurers will try to deny liability for your injuries until you can prove otherwise. For this reason, to support a pressure sore claim, you could use:
- Medical notes. Your solicitor will request copies of any relevant medical records. These could help to prove the extent of any infection or injury caused by the pressure sore.
- Photographic proof. It’s a good idea to take pictures of the pressure sore on a regular basis until it is fully healed. These can make it much easier to prove how you’ve suffered.
- CCTV footage. Some care homes and hospital wards use security cameras to keep patients safe. A copy of any relevant footage could help to prove that a lack of regular movement or potentially deliberate elder abuse caused the claimant’s pressure sores.
- Complaints and correspondence. If you wrote to complain about the treatment provided, any correspondence you’ve received could be used as proof. It’s also a good idea to write down dates, locations and names relating to any verbal conversations you had.
- Receipts and financial records. To help recover any costs linked to your pressure sores, it’s useful to retain any relevant invoices, bank statements or receipts.
While we realise that your well-being or that of a loved one is your first priority, it is a good idea to keep a diary of events in case you do decide to claim. If you have any queries about the types of evidence you could use to improve your chances of being compensated, please get in touch.
Claiming pressure sore compensation for someone else
If the claimant lacks the mental capacity to claim compensation for pressure sores themselves, a friend or family member could do so on their behalf. This means you could manage the claim and make decisions on the claimant’s behalf by becoming their litigation friend.
If this is something you’d like to do, the solicitors on our panel can help to set this up for you so please get in touch to find out more.
Pressure sores claim time limits
For any type of medical negligence, you will need to begin the litigation process within the allowed time limit. For pressure sore claims, this is typically 3 years from the date the pressure sore was diagnosed or when you became aware of it (if representing someone else).
To make the pressure sore claims process easier, we suggest that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. By doing so, there will be plenty of time to source supporting proof and for your solicitor to request medical reports and records.
The time it takes for a pressure sore claim to be settled can vary. For straightforward cases, compensation could be awarded in a number of months. More complex cases can sometimes take longer than a year.
No Win, No Fee claims
We realise that you may be concerned about losing money when paying a personal injury solicitor to represent you. For that reason, our panel of solicitors work on a No Win, No Fee basis for all accepted pressure sore compensation claims.
That means that once you’ve signed your agreement your solicitor can begin work without any upfront legal fees being paid. Their main priorities will be to:
- Gather information from you about your treatment and your injuries.
- Request medical records and collect other proof.
- File the pressure sores claim with the defendant.
- Answer any queries that arise so you don’t have to deal with them.
- Try to ensure that any compensation offer is fair and fully reflects the amount of suffering involved.
If your claim is lost, you won’t need to pay any legal fees to your solicitor. The only time that will be necessary is if a settlement for pressure sores is awarded.
If that happens, a success fee is then deducted from your settlement. Legally, this can’t be any more than 25% of your compensation. The amount you’ll pay will be clearly listed in the agreement you’ll sign beforehand so you’re aware of it from the start of the claims process.
Start a pressure sore negligence claim today
The easiest way to start a pressure sore negligence claim is to call us on 0800 652 1345 for a free initial consultation. There’s no obligation to make a claim and any legal advice given during the call is free.
If your claim is suitable and taken on by a solicitor from our panel, you’ll benefit from knowing that you’ll only have to pay legal fees if the claim is successful.
If you’d like more information about pressure sore claims, please connect to our free online chat service or request a free consultation here.