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Bedsores Medical Negligence
Bedsores Medical Negligence

When Do Hospital Bedsores Lead To Medical Negligence Claims?

Bedsores, sometimes known as “pressure sores” or “pressure ulcers”, develop when prolonged pressure on a localised part of the body damages the skin and underlying tissue. It is estimated that between 4 and 10% of all patients admitted to hospital in the UK will develop at least one bedsore. For those with mobility problems, in particular the elderly, this figure can be as high as 70%.

What Causes Bedsores?

Blood vessels carry nutrients to the soft tissues of the body, such as skin and muscle, and remove waste products. If pressure is placed on the soft tissue for an extended amount of time, the blood flow is prevented and the tissue is deprived of the necessary nutrients. The soft tissue then begins to die, resulting in a bedsore.

There are a number of factors which can contribute towards a patient developing bedsores, the most common of which are:-

  • Confinement either to a bed, chair or wheelchair;
  • Inability to change positions without assistance (due to illness, paralysis, or advanced age);
  • Moisture on the skin (from things such as urine, faeces or perspiration which act as an irritant);
  • Poor nutrition/dehydration

The areas of the body most at risk from bedsores largely depend on what position the patient is lying/sitting in, and usually develop in areas of bony prominences, including: the base of the spine, hips, heels, ankles and shoulders.

Symptoms of Bedsores?

As bedsores form, the affected skin may look red in colour, and will feel tender to the touch. As it worsens, the area will become painful and possibly turn a purple colour. When the tissue dies it is likely an open sore will develop which if not treated can lead to infection of the blood (sepsis) and tissue death (gangrene).

In the most severe cases, the sore can increase in size and depth to such an extent the bones of the patient are exposed. Such devastating damage to the fat and muscle underneath the skin destroys the nerves, leaving the patient unable to feel pain.


If a patient does develop a bedsore, medical staff should employ the appropriate treatment as quickly as possible to prevent the sore enlarging and/or becoming infected. Treatment can include:-

  • Cleaning the sores regularly;
  • Antibiotics;
  • Improved nutrition (particularly an increase in Vitamin C and zinc);
  • Surgery (in the most severe cases).

Can Bedsores Be Prevented?

Bedsores happen all too frequently in the UK, despite the fact that in most cases they can be easily prevented. This can be achieved by an assessment of each patient so as to determine whether he/she is at risk of developing sores. Once this risk has been identified, health care professionals should take the necessary precautions. These preventative measures may include some or all of the following:-

  • Bathing the patient regularly;
  • Any moisture on the skin to be treated (eg. incontinence leading to urine on the skin);
  • Good nutrition and hydration;
  • Frequent repositioning of the patient;
  • Use of appropriate support devices to relieve pressure on risk areas;
  • Regular reassessments of the patient.

Bedsores and Medical Negligence?

When bedsores do develop, it is often as a direct result of medical negligence. It may be that medical staff did not take sufficient measures to prevent sores developing, or failed to recognise a patient in their care had developed sores that needed to be treated. Such neglect can lead to significant pain and serious complications, including sepsis, gangrene, and nerve damage.

If you believe that you or someone you know suffered bedsores as a result of medical negligence, you should again seek legal advice so that you can be fully advised of the options available to you. These could include claiming medical negligence compensation through the courts, or simply pursuing a complaint using the NHS Complaints Procedure.

A specialist medical negligence solicitor will be able to explain all of your options to you so that you can decide what, if anything, you would like to do.

Can We Help You With A Bedsores Medical Negligence Enquiry?

Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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Can We Help You With A Bedsores Medical Negligence Enquiry?

Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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