Medical Negligence

Hospital failed to protect cancer patient from developing pressure sores

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3 min read time

A Hospital Trust admitted failing an elderly patient who developed pressure sores during a stay in hospital for specialist cancer treatment.

The 71-year-old man had initially been admitted with severe back pain and was diagnosed with cancer of the kidneys which had spread to his bones. He was moved to the specialist cancer clinic, where he was to receive further treatment.

Whilst there he developed ‘full thickness’ pressure sores to his lower back; these had gone through to the second layer of skin. Sadly he died whilst in the clinic, less than three months after being told he had cancer.

Pressure sores are often preventable if appropriate assessments are made and prevention and treatment programmes follow.

To ensure this is done, hospitals and care settings should conduct a thorough assessment on admission to properly assess a patient’s vulnerability to developing sores.

The Legal Case

Having obtained and reviewed our client’s medical records we identified a number of failures relating to the care provided.

These included the failure to carry out the required assessments on admission, failings in handover from hospital to the specialist clinic, inaccurate and delayed record keeping regarding the status of his sores and delays in appropriate risk plans being developed and implemented.

We also identified that there had been a failure to keep detailed records of the man’s weight, which dropped by two stone within a month of his admission, and in the failure to refer him to a specialist dietitian.

In this case the Trust admitted negligence and a settlement of £17,000 was agreed, without the need to go to court.

Hudgell Solicitors’ Comment

Medical Negligence Solicitor Emma Cawthorne, who represented the family, said:

“Sadly, we come across a number of cases where a very basic failure in care can cause added pain and suffering during what is already a difficult time.

“Pressure sores can be avoided in the vast majority of cases through having a clear understanding of a patient’s susceptibility to develop them, and by introducing measures such as ensuring the right diet is given, by ensuring their position is regularly changed and, if appropriate, the use of specialist foam mattresses and cushions.

“It can be extremely distressing for families to have a loved one in hospital and to see their health suffer further in this way.

“This was a particularly sad case; having to endure increased, unnecessary pain and suffering during the last few months of life is something that should never be allowed to happen and could have so easily been avoided .”

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