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Grade 4 Pressure Sores

Grade 4 Pressure Sores

There are different grades of pressure sore, with grade four being the most severe. If a patient develops a grade four pressure sore in hospital or in another healthcare environment, serious questions must be raised as to how it happened and why treatment was not provided earlier.

What are pressure sores?

Pressure sores are also known as pressure ulcers or bedsores. They occur when an area of tissue is placed under prolonged pressure, disrupting the blood supply to the skin. The blood supplies oxygen to the tissue and carries waste products away; if the supply is cut off, the tissue will become deficient in oxygen (ischaemic) and waste products will build up. This will cause the tissue to break down, creating a pressure sore. If pressure is not relieved, an open wound often called an ulcer will develop.

Pressure sore grading

Pressure sores are graded according to the extent of tissue damage. A grade one pressure sore is the most minor type of pressure sore and involves only the superficial layer of skin. A grade four pressure sore is the most severe and means the skin is severely damaged, while the tissue underneath has started to die (become necrotic). Muscles or bone damage may also be present.

A grade four pressure sore is a very serious injury and can leave the individual in question vulnerable to serious infection. If the patient is already frail or infirm, this could be fatal.

Grade 4 pressure sores and medical negligence

Pressure sores are most common in hospital patients who are immobile due to illness, injury or old age. Lying or sitting in the same position for long periods of time will mean that pressure is exerted in the same place, causing the tissue to break down. Bony prominences are particularly vulnerable, including the heels, knees, hips, buttocks, elbows, wrists, shoulders and head.

Because of this known risk, medical professionals should ensure that patients are turned on a regular basis and frequently inspect pressure areas. If the slightest sign of damage is visible, measures should be put in place to stop the problem getting any worse. This might include a pressure relieving mattress and dressings. With these steps, it should be possible to manage a pressure sore, preventing it from becoming a grade four pressure sore.

Unfortunately, however, patients do develop grade four pressure sores in a healthcare environment. When this happens, it is usually because there has been some form of neglect either nurses have not been checking pressure areas, or have noticed the damage but failed to implement any pressure-relieving measures.

If you or your loved one has developed a grade four pressure sore while in hospital or a care home, get in touch with a solicitor to discuss what action you can take. There may be a case of medical negligence, meaning you would be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation.

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