At one time or another you have probably heard people mention pressure sores, but not known exactly what they are. You may even have an elderly relative who is bed ridden and has suffered pressure damage due to lack of mobility. When someone remains in one position for an extended period of time the weight of the body pressing on one area restricts the blood supply, which causes damage to the skin and underlying tissue. In the worst cases the tissue dies and can the person is left with an open wound which will be extremely painful and can take a long time to heal.
The Reason for Pressure Sores
Generally, a person shifts regularly from one spot to another, whether it’s in bed or sitting in a chair. Rarely do you remain in precisely one spot unless you are physically unable to reposition yourself possibly as a result of an accident or medical condition. People who are vulnerable to developing pressure sores should expect to be assessed correctly and nursed appropriately to ensure that pressure damage does not occur.
There are 4 Types of Pressure Sores
Pressure sores have been allocated grades. Grade I is minor, while grade 4 is considered to be extremely serious.
See also: A Sound Sleep
A Grade 1 Pressure Sore
This minor pressure sore indicates its presence by a discolouring of the skin, which is generally red in those who are fair-skinned and blue or purple in darker skinned people. In both cases the area affected may feel warmer than usual and the victim may complain of pain in the area or an itchy sensation.
A Grade 2 Pressure Sore
The skin in this case has lost some of its thickness as damage has been done to the top two layers of the skin. There may be nerve damage as well. It may resemble a blister in appearance or it may look like an open wound.
A Grade 3 Pressure Sore
Much of the skin’s thickness will have been lost with this type of sore, leaving a deep and open wound.
A Grade 4 Pressure Sore
The skin area of this grade of pressure sore will have suffered severe damage which is so bad that any surrounding skin will have been starved of much needed oxygen leading to complete destruction of the skin tissue. The victim may even have experienced damage to adjacent bone.
Who is Likely to Experience Pressure Sores?
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recorded who is most likely to develop a pressure sore. Some of those most at risk are listed below.
- Anyone who finds movement difficult, such as an elderly person.
- Anyone who suffers from poor circulation.
- Anyone who is unable to feel pain in any part or all their body.
- Anyone who suffers from incontinence which softens the skin leading to damage.
- Anyone who is confined to bed to recover from an injury or surgery.
- Anyone who fails to consume the right diet or sufficient liquids which weakens the strength of the skin.
- Recipients of hip replacements.
The Prevention of Pressure Sores
The first step for the prevention of pressure sores is to assess where they are likely to occur and ensure that the pressure is constantly moved off this area. It could be your bottom, hip, heel, elbow, back, shoulder and the back of the head. There are specialist medical aids such as air mattresses and pressure cushions which can assist in the prevention of pressure sores; in a situation where a person is unable to move themselves they will need to be physically repositioned regularly.
Hospital Guidelines for Patient Admissions
As they so commonly affect patients in hospitals and nursing care, the current guidelines recommend that all patients be assessed within six hours of admission to hospital. A further reassessment should take place if the patient’s situation is altered such as being restricted to bed for an indeterminate period of time.
Pressure sores are avoidable in most cases, so if you have developed pressure sores whilst in a hospital or nursing environment then it may be as a result of negligent care. Compensation for the pain and suffering is available where the standard of care provided fell below the standard that you should expect from the care provider.
Curtis Legal are a law firm that specialises in personal injury and medical negligence cases. The firm was set up in 1997 by Alan Curtis—a solicitor with over 20 years experience of personal injury work. Simon Jenkins joined in 2001 and since this time they have built the firm with the ethos that client care is the number one priority. To find out more about their services, visit their website: curtislegal.co.uk
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