The Court of Protection & deputies

Substandard care provided to an elderly lady whilst in hospital, leading to the development of pressure sores which contributed to her death

On 6 October 2018, Mrs S (80 years old) was admitted to hospital following a deterioration in her behaviour with delirium, depression, anxiety and an unspecified dementia diagnosis.

Following a risk assessment, Mrs S was noted to be at risk of developing pressure sores. At that time, her pressure areas were documented to be intact.

Mrs S remained in hospital and medical records documented a gradual increase in her risk of developing pressure ulcers. Despite this, there were significant gaps in the repositioning records and turning charts. Fluid and food intake charts showed a limited intake of the same.

On 27 February 2019, a medical consultant confirmed the presence of a grade 2 pressure ulcer to the left buttock and a grade 3 pressure ulcer to the coccyx.

On 13 March 2019, a deterioration in Mrs S’ clinical condition was acknowledged and she was transferred to a different hospital. On admission, a grade 4 pressure ulcer was noted.

On 14 March 2019, Mrs Scott was noted to be very poorly. She was documented to have a sacral pressure ulcer grade 4, and a grade 2 pressure ulcer to the right ear.

She was later examined by a tissue viability nurse (TVN), who noted a large grade 4 sacral pressure ulcer and a category 3 pressure ulcer to the upper side of the right buttock. Other pressure areas were intact.

Mrs S condition deteriorated, and she died on 20 March 2019.

We were contacted by Mrs S’ family seeking assistance with the Inquest into her death. We assisted in finding a barrister who had direct access training, whom the family instructed privately.

The Inquest concluded that Mrs S died as a result of the natural cause of pulmonary embolism. However, the pulmonary embolism was likely to have been, in part, contributed to by pressure ulcer and immobility both of which had developed whilst in NHS care.

We were then instructed separately to investigate the clinical negligence claim. We requested medical records and obtained a report from a nurse specialising in care given to the elderly. Investigations were undertaken into the loss to the patient and her family.

A letter of claim setting out the allegations of negligence was sent to the defendant Trust with an offer of settlement. The Trust admitted liability and the case settled shortly thereafter for £30,000.

Christina Mallery specialises in claims relating to the care of elderly and deficiencies in nursing care, including pressure sores. If you would like to ask Christina a question about a potential clinical negligence claim, or if you have a general query about any personal injury claim, contact Christina at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701183 in confidence.

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