May 3, 2012

£10,000 for a pressure sore that could –and should- have been avoided

Our client, W, received £10,000 in compensation after the hospital failed to follow its own protocol for pressure ulcer prevention.

During the late 1990s W developed pain in both his knees. In March 2005 he underwent a total knee replacement at a hospital in Cardiff and made a full and uneventful recovery.

In July 2005 the Claimant had a total replacement of his right knee at the Weston-Super-Mare General Hospital. Following the operation, he became conscious of a throbbing pain in his right foot. As the pain got worse he mentioned the problem to members of the medical team. However, they dismissed his concerns and did not examine his foot.

During the evening of the same day, the pain got so much worse that W asked a nurse to investigate the cause. The nurse attended and proceeded to massage his foot, but again did not examine it.

The next morning, W told the hospital staff about the now severe pain in his right foot. Finally the bandages and support stockings were cut away and the skin on his right heel was revealed for the first time since the operation. There was a large pressure sore around the heel which was approximately 7 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide. The leg was elevated and dressed. The sore then began to leak and a period of treatment was commenced.

W discharged from the hospital a few weeks later and was told to keep the wound covered and to contact his GP in order to get the dressing changed. He also continued to receive regular visits from the District Nurse to change the dressing.

Due to the problems with his foot, W had difficulty in keeping up with the exercises the physiotherapist had suggested he do for his knee and as a result his joint became stiff. W developed an abnormal gait and eventually a further right knee replacement was performed in a hospital in Cardiff in June 2006.

The heel skin remained fragile and W continued to require heel guards and special footwear and was advised that his right heel will now always be prone to further tissue breakdown.

Simon Elliman, partner in out Clinical Negligence team, took on W’s case and engaged medical experts in tissue viability to assess the hospital’s actions and the damage to W’s health. Both expert witnesses in the case were strongly of the opinion that the hospital failed to follow its own pressure sore prevention protocol and monitor W’s condition after his surgery.

This expert evidence made W’s case: after a period of negotiation the claim was settled at £10,000.

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