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Patient gets nearly £500k after Stoke Mandeville admit negligence

Patient gets nearly £500k after Stoke Mandeville admit negligence

Published by Charlotte Fisher at 11:16am 21st November 2018. (Updated at 1:21pm 21st November 2018)

Nearly £500,000 has been awarded to a 70-year-old after Stoke Mandeville hospital admit negligence.

£475,000 has been secured for a 70 year old with a spinal cord injury who sustained over ten extensive and intractable pressure sores whilst in two hospitals.

As a result of his horrendous pressure sores, he has remained in hospital for eight years so far.

'Bed sores'

People with spinal cord injuries are at high risk of developing pressure ulcers, which are often known as ‘pressure sores’ or ‘bed sores’.

This is because when you become paralysed you can lose your ability to feel and to know when to move your body to avoid pressure building on your skin.

Able bodied people adjust their pressure automatically but those with a spinal cord injury can’t feel, so do not know to move, and in addition, may also have difficulties repositioning themselves depending on their level of paralysis.

It is therefore vital that medics undertake preventative measures to ensure pressure sores do not occur in accordance with NICE guidance.

Nearly £500k awardef to patient after Stoke Mandeville hospital admit negligence
Outside of Stoke Mandeville Hospital

What happened?

  • The 70-year-old fell down a flight of stairs at home and sustained a spinal cord injury rendering him paralysed.
  • He was taken to his nearest trauma centre where medics proceeded to stabilise his spinal cord injury. He sustained three to four pressure ulcers within ten days of his admission to hospital following his fall. The Royal London hospital admitted that these sores could and should have been avoided with proper care and management.
  • He was then moved to a specialist spinal injury unit at Stoke Mandeville hospital to commence his rehabilitation for his spinal cord injury.
  • At the point of transfer his pressure ulcers were not fully healed. They too failed to provide him with proper care for his existing ulcers causing them to worsen.
  • To make matters worse, further ulcers developed, which Stoke Mandeville admitted was negligent.
  • He consequently sustained in excess of ten pressure sores to his body whilst under the care of the first and second hospitals, several of which were grade 4 in nature, the most severe type of sore that can occur.
  • He developed complications from the pressure sores which required various surgeries to try and manage the complications, resulting in him requiring a permanent tracheotomy. This meant he was unable to fully commence his spinal rehabilitation, was extremely ill over a period of seven years due to the severe complications and has never been able to leave hospital.

"This case is one of the most severe I have ever seen"

Bolt Burdon Kemp, compensation solicitors, successfully argued that but for the negligence of the two hospitals, their client would have been able to return to his home and adapt to his spinal cord injury with minimal assistance and without any permanent equipment to help him breathe.

Due to the negligent treatment and care received by their client, he now requires a permanent tracheotomy, very high levels of care and high-tech equipment which would have otherwise been avoided, to help prevent further skin breakdowns from occurring.

It is one of the most shocking cases Bolt Burdon Kemp has seen in relation to pressure sores.

He had horrendous grade 4 sores and worse, has never been able to leave hospital which has impacted substantially on his quality of life.

It serves as a reminder to all who care for those at risk of developing pressure sores, how quickly one can escalate and the vital importance of prevention and close vigilance to ensure such devastating injuries are avoided.

Raquel Siganporia, Head of Spinal Injury at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said:

“This case is one of the most severe I have ever seen in relation to pressure sores.

"The settlement is also, consequently, one of the highest I know of, for a case of this nature.

"Lessons need to be learnt here – hospitals which treat spinal injured patients need to improve the training they have about why pressure sores should be prevented; how to aid prevention; and the need for close monitoring and extreme vigilance.

"Further, should sores arise, lessons need to be learnt on having better procedures and best practice guides for how to treat sores, to avoid them worsening or multiplying.

"That two hospitals failed my client so badly is beyond appalling and I
hope to see improvements in this field immediately.

"My only consolation is that the work of my team, has ensured that my client now has all the care and treatment that he needs in order to return home and live as comfortably as possible.”

Their specialist spinal injury team were able to secure one of the highest amounts of compensation for a case relating to pressure sores because they understand the complexities of having a spinal cord injury and the vulnerabilities our client faced as a result of the pressure sores.

Hospitals respond:

Joint statement from Barts Health NHS Trust and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust:

“We sincerely apologise that our treatment fell below the standard our patients rightly expect and we recognise the significant effect this has had on this particular patient.

"Preventing and treating pressure ulcers is one of the NHS’ most important safety priorities, which is why in recent years we’ve taken a range of actions including enhancing training for staff.”

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