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Man who suffered spinal injury after fall developed serious pressure sores after being left in hospital bed too long

Edward was 79 when he had an accidental fall, after a family party, and suffered a spinal injury.

He was taken to hospital where a neck fracture was diagnosed and Edward was fitted with a neck brace in order to hold his spine in a straight line.

The nursing care plan was to ‘log roll’ Edward periodically, as he was unable to move himself, and he was at a very high risk of developing pressure sores.

However, his records later showed that the care plan had not been properly followed and, after almost three weeks of lying practically still in bed, it was noted that Edward had developed a pressure sore.

Edward was eventually transferred to a specialist Spinal Injuries Unit, a month after the pressure sore had been noted, in order to receive rehabilitation.

However, by then, the pressure sore had developed to a Grade 4 level and so he underwent an operation to remove a significant amount of dead tissue. The existence of the Grade 4 pressure sore meant that Edward’s entire recovery process was hampered.

The nursing care Edward received whilst in the first hospital was below an acceptable standard and the pressure sore he developed would have been avoided with appropriate care.

He was in bed for longer than necessary and wasn’t mobilised to a wheelchair as soon as he would otherwise have been, due to the position of the pressure sore around his sacrum, which affected his rehabilitation as well as his ability to engage with his family and the community.

Even when Edward could be mobilised into a wheelchair, he was also only able to sit there for 5-6 hours maximum rather than the 12 hours he should have been able to achieve by that stage if the pressure sore had not developed.

Potter Rees Dolan were successful in settling Edward’s claim for £17,500 plus costs in respect of the delay in his rehabilitation by a period of about 12 months during which time his quality of life was further impaired over and above the problems that he already faced as a result of his spinal injury.

Lesley Herbertson acted for Edward and commented:

Edward suffered his spinal injury as a result of no-one’s fault and his actual spinal injury was well-managed. However, the nursing care that Edward received was very poor. If a patient cannot move then it is well known that they are very likely to develop pressure sores.

Therefore, it is important that that patient is moved by others on a regular basis to relieve the pressure on vulnerable parts of the body for example the skin around the bottom end of the spine.

We could not recover any compensation for Edward in relation to his spinal injury, but we could demonstrate that being allowed to develop the pressure sore that he did his recovery in the context of his spinal injury was seriously hampered and for that an award of compensation was appropriate.

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