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Boyes Turner’s hospital negligence lawyers have secured a settlement for the bereaved partner of a 65-year-old man who died in hospital after he was allowed to develop a grade 4 pressure sore from negligent hospital care.

The deceased had a complex medical history, including type 2 diabetes, peripheral vascular disease (problems with blood circulation), heart disease and obesity, which limited his mobility and projected lifespan. He attended the emergency department (A&E) at the defendant hospital for treatment of a gangrenous left great toe. His health conditions and reduced mobility meant that he was at high risk of developing pressure ulcers (pressure sores). However, the hospital’s own pressure ulcer prevention and management policy was ignored by hospital staff who failed to assess his risk or take measures to prevent him developing pressure sores.

The next afternoon he was transferred to the ward. He had chronic osteomyelitis of his left great toe, which needed amputation. His pressure ulcer risk was incorrectly assessed as ‘medium’ by an unqualified healthcare assistant (instead of a registered nurse). His high-risk status remained unrecognised and further failures to assess and properly manage his pressure ulcer risk (such as by regular repositioning) occurred repeatedly throughout his hospital stay.

After the amputation surgery, the deceased became unwell, leaving him even more dependent on the hospital’s nursing care. Over the next few days, his medical records noted an area of redness and a blister (grade 1 pressure ulcer) on his sacrum. This should have led to a review, an incident report and increased pressure area care, but his nursing notes recorded no skin damage, and no action was taken, despite his high risk of developing pressure sores. His communication, appetite and nutritional status deteriorated. He was referred to a tissue viability nurse and an incident report completed, but the negligent nursing care of his pressure areas and nutrition continued.

Finally, more than a week after his pressure sore was first identified, he was seen by a tissue viability nurse (TVN) who noted a sloughy ulcer at the natal cleft (between the buttocks) with purple discoloration on the left buttock. She recommended changes to his dressings and a pressure relieving mattress. Over the following days, the pressure sores deteriorated into a 10 x 9cm, 95% necrotic, grade 4 ulcer which was found to be contaminated with faeces. 11 days after the TVN’s request for surgical review, he was finally seen by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon who found an ‘extremely severe’ pressure ulcer. When surgical debridement (cleaning) of the ulcer took place the next day, the wound was found to be 15 x 20cm, bone deep, with 500mls of pus in the cavity under the skin. The deceased remained in hospital. His foot was stable after the amputation, but he remained very unwell from his pressure ulcer. He died shortly after being diagnosed with hospital acquired pneumonia.

We helped the deceased’s bereaved, long-term partner make a claim against the hospital for her loss of dependency on the deceased and as administrator on behalf of his estate.

The hospital’s own investigation into the deceased’s hospital treatment was critical of the care that he received. We pursued a claim for compensation for our client’s losses on the basis that the defendant’s negligent care caused our client to suffer an avoidable pressure ulcer which led to his premature death. With correct care he should not have developed the pressure ulcer and probably would have been discharged from hospital a maximum of six weeks after his amputation surgery, once his foot was stable. The claim settled out of court.

If someone you love has died as a result of negligent medical care, you can find out more about making a claim by contacting us by email on mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.