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Pressure Sores: Prevention and Management

Pressure Sores: Prevention and Management

Most pressure sores can be prevented or, if they do develop, can be effectively managed. Therefore if you do suffer a sore while staying within a healthcare environment, you need to ask why it happened, and whether you received the appropriate treatment. If it is found the care you received fell below an acceptable standard, you may be able to claim compensation.

Preventing Pressure Sores

In the majority of cases, pressures sores can be prevented if medical staff comply with the established guidelines. These must be strictly followed throughout the course of a patient's stay within hospital (or nursing home etc), and must begin as soon as a patient enters into the healthcare system.

Indeed, according to NICE guidelines, a patient must undergo a pressure sore risk assessment within 6 hours of being admitted to a new healthcare environment. If a patient is found to be at risk, an appropriate care plan should be devised detailing how pressure sores are to be prevented. This may include:-

  • Inspecting the skin for early signs of damage;
  • Changing a patient's position frequently;
  • Ensuring bed clothes are wrinkle free and clean;
  • Arranging a well-balanced diet and avoiding dehydration;
  • Positioning a patient to protect skin from friction;
  • Using special equipment to reduce skin from damage.

Patients should then be reassessed at regular intervals. If their condition or needs change, the care plan and provision of special equipment must be reviewed.

Managing Pressure Sores

If a pressure sore does begin to develop, it is vital it is quickly diagnosed and treated in order to reduce the amount of damage to the skin.

Every establishment will have policies in place to ensure each patient receives the appropriate standard of care. While this may vary slightly from place to place, nursing staff will be required to carry out wound assessments, wound grading and dimensions, risk assessments and complete turning charts. It will also be necessary to record and evaluate the care of a pressure sore, as well as regularly assess the treatment being provided. This should be at least weekly, or daily for wounds graded 2 or above.

When caring for a pressure sore, it is also recommended that a multi-disciplinary approach is adopted (ie. consulting different specialists) therefore guaranteeing treatment is both thorough and consistent. Furthermore, communication between doctors and nurses is essential.

If these steps are taken, a patient should begin to show signs of improvement, or at the very least the deterioration of a pressure sore should be prevented.

Pressure Sores and Medical Negligence

However, if medical professionals fail to provide the following, then there may be a case of medical negligence:-

  • A risk assessment within 6 hours of a patient being admitted;
  • An appropriate care plan to identify risk and implement a management strategy;
  • Carry out a re-positioning schedule;
  • Provide suitable pressure relieving equipment and/or garments;
  • Grade, map and measure a pressure sore;
  • Re-evaluation of wound healing and reassessment of care plan.

If you or a loved one has suffered a pressure sore that was poorly managed, or you believe it could have been avoided all together, then you need to seek legal advice.

This is because while pressures sores are sometimes unavoidable, there are many cases in which such damage should never have been allowed to happen. This can lead to successful medical negligence claim, as a patient's sore will have developed (and often deteriorated) as the result of a substandard level of care.

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