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July 18, 2022

How Can Pressure Sores be Caused by Medical Negligence?

Pressure sores result when a person is made to stay in one position- that is, confined to either the bed or chair for a long period of time due to illness. The area of skin or tissue below is damaged as a result of the pressure due to reduced blood supply. Pressure sores are also known as bedsores or pressure ulcers and usually develop on pressure points such as heels, backs and bums.

Where your loved one who is a resident in a care home has suffered pressure sore, it could be a sign of medical negligence and you could have strong grounds for pressure sore negligence claims.

Caregivers are expected to take appropriate steps to minimize the risk of developing pressure sore and so the development of such sores could be a sign of poor care. Pressure sores can not only be painful but also debilitating having a severe impact on the wellbeing of the person. It is always better to prevent the development of pressure sores.

Regular changing of the patient’s position, adequate hydration, daily skincare and a healthy diet are very essential towards preventing the onset of pressure sores.

If the pressure sores are not treated when they appear, it can exacerbate causing more complications for the patient. In less severe cases, relieving the pressure on the affected area and regular cleaning of the wound may be enough treatment. However, if the sore is very severe, then there may be a need to remove dead tissue. Severe pressure sores also puts the patient at risk of other complications such as infections, sepsis and even skin cancer. Additionally, death of the tissue as a result of poor blood supply (necrosis) can be a life-threatening condition.

Causes Of Pressure Sore

Oftentimes, the risk of developing pressure sore does not depend solely on the length of time the resident spent without being moved but more on how delicate and fragile the skin of the person is.

It is therefore important that caregivers or nurses or other medical professionals carry out a risk assessment on residents of care homes and indeed patients under their care to determine which of them is at the risk of developing pressure sores.

That said, there are three major factors that contribute to the development of pressure sores. These are;

  • Pressure
  • Limited Mobility
  • Friction


When there is sustained pressure on one part of the body, blood flow is restricted. The implication of this is that the tissues are deprived of oxygen and other essential nutrients. In the absence of these nutrients, the skin and tissues in the affected area get damaged and may eventually die.

Limited Mobility:

Pressure sores caused as a result of limited mobility occur in parts of the body that lie over a bone or do not have enough covering of muscle or fat. These areas include the spine, the tailbone, shoulder blades, hips, heels and elbows.


When a fragile skin rubs against clothing or bedding, the skin most especially if it is moist, can be more vulnerable to injury. This is why risk assessment of the patient is important to determine fragile areas of the skin which could be prone to pressure sores.

People At Risk Of Developing Pressure Sores

Although pressure sores can happen to anyone, people who are confined to one position either on a bed, or sit on a wheelchair for long periods of time are usually more prone to suffering pressure sores.

People at risk of developing pressure sores are;

  • Persons who are confined to bed or a wheelchair as a result of an illness or after a surgery
  • Elderly people
  • People who suffer from paralysis which means that they are unable to move some or all parts of their body
  • People who suffer from urinary or bowel incontinence
  • People who suffer from medical conditions like diabetes and heart failure which affect their blood flow and make their skin fragile
  • Additionally, adults who already have a history of pressure ulcers are also at high risk of developing another pressure sore.

Pressure Sores Grading

Pressure sores are graded after a risk assessment based on clinical judgement using any of the following scales- the Braden scale, the Waterlow scale or the Norton risk‑assessment scale for adults and the Braden Q scale for children. Grade 4 represents the most at risk while Grade 1 is least harmful.

Grade 1: Here, the skin is discolored and there may be a warm, spongy or hard feeling with some degree of pain or itchiness experienced in the affected area.

Grade 2: There is presence of an open wound or blister as a result of a partial skin loss

Grade 3: The wound here is much deeper than in grade 2 and presents like a crater on the skin

Grade 4: Presence of a very deep wound which could get as deep as the muscle or bone. There is death of the underlying tissue (necrosis).

In most cases, bedsores can be identified before they reach to the grade 3 and 4 which are considered very serious and can lead to far reaching complications.

Pressure Sores Medical Negligence Claim

Some negligent actions which could lead to making a medical negligence claim include where a healthcare provider or care giver;

  • Fails to properly assess the patient and determine the patient’s risk of developing a pressure sore so as to implement the appropriate preventive measures.
  • Fails to monitor the patient adequately and watch out for signs of bedsores during their stay in hospital or a care home and take appropriate steps to prevent them.
  • Fails to identify symptoms of a pressure ulcer in its early stages before it develops into an open wound or becomes infected.

Our Medical negligence experts take issues on pressure sores very seriously as it has the potential of being life threatening.

Pressure sores claims received by the NHS Resolution from women who suffered pressure sores in maternity units between April 1 2000 and March 31 2018 totaled 96 and 87 of these claims were successful resulting in a combined settlement payout of £2,473,244. The NHS has since produced a guide which highlights the impact of pressure damage on women.

We therefore encourage you to take up our no win no fee claim offer to make your pressure sores claims. Our solicitors are ready to hear from you. Reach out to us via our helplines or fill out our online enquiry forms to get started.

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