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Higgs LLP backs Stop the Pressure Day

18th November 2021

Higgs LLP backs Stop the Pressure Day

Mark Parsons, Professional Support Lawyer in the Higgs LLP Personal Injury team, marks International Stop the Pressure Day by outlining the problem of pressure sore ulcers – and how they can be avoided.

Today is International Stop the Pressure Day. The day serves as a timely reminder of the problems and dangers of pressure sore ulcers – and the quite simple steps that can be taken by healthcare professionals to minimise risk.

More than 1,300 new ulcers are reported each month, and many are a direct result of poor care.  It is all-too-common for us to hear from people who are suffering from preventable pressure ulcers. Unfortunately, we regularly act to secure compensation for families whose loved ones have not been given the level of care expected.

Pressure ulcers occur when there is sustained pressure and shearing forces on the skin.

For this reason, pressure ulcers typically affect patients who are immobilised and remain in the same position for prolonged periods of time, such as people with serious spinal cord injuries.

Any patient is potentially at risk of developing a pressure ulcer, however, you are more likely to suffer them if you have:

  • a neurological condition,
  • impaired nutrition
  • poor posture

Chairs and beds not specially designed to relieve pressure can also lead to pressure ulcers. It is estimated that 4-10% of all hospital in-patients develop new pressure ulcers in the UK, so it is important that they are managed effectively.

Pressure sores are a type of injury that break down the skin and underlying tissue, caused when an area of skin is placed under either a large amount of pressure over a short period of time or less pressure is applied over a longer period of time.

The pressure disrupts the flow of blood through the skin and, without a blood supply, the affected skin becomes starved of oxygen and nutrients, and begins to break down - leading to an ulcer.  Also known as "bedsores" or "pressure ulcers", they range in severity from patches of discoloured skin to open wounds that expose the underlying bone or muscle.    

A range of techniques are used to prevent pressure sores from developing which include:

  • regularly changing position
  • using specially designed mattresses and cushions
  • eating a healthy diet
  • not smoking

Should you develop a pressure sore then treatment includes using dressings, creams and gels designed to speed up the healing process and relieve pressure. Healing is not a fast process however, as long you have adequate pressure redistribution, good nutrition and appropriate wound management, the ulcer heals in most cases.  Pressure sores may just require minor nursing care, but they can be serious and lead to life-threatening complications, such as blood poisoning or gangrene, and require surgery.

Those with extensive superficial pressure sores, Grade 3 or 4 pressure sores, or those that are deteriorating should be referred to a specialist service.  If you have a Grade 1 pressure sore you are at a significant risk of developing more severe ulcers and should receive interventions to prevent deterioration.  This can be in the form of pain relief and infection control. 

Nutritional support should be given to patients who have an identified nutritional deficiency.  If you are recognised as poorly nourished and at risk of pressure ulceration, then you should be referred to a dietician.

In addition, the Spinal Injuries Association and its Spinal Cord Injury Nurse Specialist Team are on hand to provide support and advice to those at risk of developing pressure ulcers.  For example, simple changes to aids and equipment, regular physiotherapy and Functional Electric Stimulation (FES) bikes to promote circulation and blood flow can all play an important part in the fight against the development of pressure ulcers.

The Clinical Negligence team at Higgs LLP is ready to act when poor care has led to pressure ulcers.

As a firm, we have partnered with the Spinal Injuries Association to support patients who have needlessly suffered a spinal cord injury, either as a result of a catastrophic injury or due to clinical negligence.

Pressure ulcers can be a further complication for someone with a spinal cord injury and are a source of major pain and discomfort for all who suffer them.

We’re pleased to be raising awareness on this international day.

People who have been affected by pressure ulcers as a result of poor care can talk to the Higgs LLP team by calling 0345 111 5050 or by emailing law@higgsllp.co.uk

 

 

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