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Pressure Sore Grades

Pressure Sore Grades

Pressure sores unfortunately affect a large number of hospital patients every year. While for some this may only be a minor sore, there are sadly people who suffer serious damage, with a sore lead to debilitating and life-threatening complications.

What Are Pressure Sores?

Pressure sores occur when the skin and underlying tissue are subject to a significant amount of unrelieved pressure. This may either be a low level of compression for an extended period of time, or a high level pressure for a short period of time. Either way, the effect will be to disrupt the blood flow, meaning that particular area of tissue will receive an insufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen. Furthermore, there will not be enough blood to carry waste products away, meaning they will continue to build up.

With a shortage of oxygen and nutrients and an accumulation of waste products, the underlying tissue will soon become damaged. If compression to the skin fails to be relieved, then a sore will begin to develop. If this problem is not addressed, the tissue will continue to deteriorate and the pressure sore will become increasingly severe.

Grades of Pressure Sore

Pressure sores have differing grades of severity, allowing medical professionals to categorise the extent of damage. There are four different grades of pressure sore which can be described as follows:-

Grade 1

A grade 1 pressure sore is the first stage of development, and it can be difficult to identify. Early signs will include a reddened area of skin which, when pressed lightly, remains red. This is opposed to healthy skin, which momentarily goes white when pressed (known as blanching).

Grade 2

As the sore worsens, the skin will become slightly thicker, while a superficial injury upon the skin will become evident. This may either appear as a blister, abrasion or a shallow crater.

Grade 3

When the sore progresses to a grade 3, the skin will be described as having full thickness, and there will also be a loss of skin. This will not, however, involve the underlying fascia and will extend only to the subcutaneous tissue. On appearance, the sore will be an open wound, presenting as a deep crater.

Grade 4

In the final stage, the skin will have full thickness and skin loss will extend to the underlying tissue and muscle. Skin may also become necrotic, while damage to the bone is also possible. At this stage, pressure sores can be life-threatening, posing the risk of additional health problems such as infection and blood poisoning.

Pressure Sores and Medical Negligence

When it comes to preventing, diagnosing and treating pressures sores, medical professionals have strict guidelines to follow. Indeed, all patients must be assessed for pressure sore risk within six hours of entering a new healthcare environment. If a risk is identified, an appropriate plan to prevent a sore from developing should be devised, while reviews should be carried out regularly. Except in the most extreme cases, this should be enough to ensure a sore does not occur. Or, at the very least, will mean a pressure sore is recognised and treated in the early stages.

If there is a failure by medical staff to prevent, diagnose or treat a pressure sore, then it may be that the level of care has fallen below an acceptable standard. In this event, it may be possible for the victim to make a medical negligence claim which, if successful, would result in the award of compensation.

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