Case study: £37,000 for woman who died after developing sepsis from untreated pressure sores

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Our medical negligence solicitors helped a family to claim compensation after a woman died from sepsis which she developed as a result of untreated pressure sores.

Background: admission to hospital with abdominal pain and severe dehydration

Mrs C was in her late 70s and lived independently, without any health issues. She contracted what she thought to be a sickness bug and, after being unwell for five days, attended her GP surgery.

Mrs C’s GP was concerned as she was unable to keep any fluids down and, although a viral infection was suspected, a blood and stool sample was taken. After about a week, she returned to her GP as, although her diarrhoea and vomiting had begun to settle, she was still feeling weak and unwell. Her doctor placed Mrs C on Dioralyte.

Five days later, Mrs C called for a GP to attend her home as she had lost a significant amount of weight and was suffering from severe stomach pain. As a result, she was admitted to hospital.

At the hospital, Mrs C was noted to be suffering from abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and severe dehydration. Medical staff noted no previous relevant medical history and that Mrs C was normally fit and well. Upon admission to the hospital ward, a risk assessment determined that she was at risk of suffering from pressure sores due to her current illness but that a full check had not noted any areas of concern on her skin at that point.

A CT scan the following day showed a liver cyst. This was benign and was initially treated conservatively with antibiotics but should that not resolve the issue, Mrs C was to have surgery to drain the cyst.

Eight days after admission to hospital, Mrs C’s heels were noted to be red. It is not clear whether cream was applied at this point, but the nursing staff did adjust her position in bed.

Mrs C deteriorated as the antibiotics were not resolving the problems associated with her liver cyst.  She was moved to the intensive care unit for monitoring and it was decided that she required surgical intervention to drain the liver abscess. This worked well and, shortly after surgery, her kidney function was noted to be improving and there was no further need for critical care support.  Mrs C was moved back to a normal ward.

Grade 2 pressure sore

The following day, during a full body check, Mrs C was noted to have a 5cm x 6cm pressure sore on her sacrum (bottom of the back, top of the bottom). The skin was broken and red and was said to be a Grade 2 pressure sore. Nothing further was noted regarding treatment.

Five days later, the pressure sore was causing Mrs C significant pain and she had deteriorated to a point that she needed full assistance with turning in bed and help with her personal hygiene needs.  A dressing was placed on her sacrum and, for the first time, an air mattress was ordered to try and relieve her pressure areas. The pressure sore had worsened and was now a Grade 3. She was also noted to be suffering from pressure sores on her heels.

Significant pressure sore leads to sepsis

Mrs C’s condition continued to deteriorate and this was directly as a result of her pressure sores worsening. A Tissue Viability Nurse (TVN) came to see Mrs C and noted within the medical records that the pressure sore had spread from the sacrum, down between the buttocks and into the right side of the groin. It was classified as a Grade 4 pressure sore.

Mrs C had developed sepsis as a result of the significant pressure sore on her sacrum. The skin on her heels was also starting to break down. She was referred to a General Surgeon to see if some of the dead tissue surrounding the sacral pressure sore could be removed. Unfortunately, it was deemed that Mrs C was too unwell to surgically intervene.

Sadly, Mrs C passed away two days later. The causes of her death were noted to include sepsis and infected bedsores.

Bringing a claim for pressure sore negligence

Mrs C’s family instructed our specialist clinical negligence solicitors to bring a claim against the hospital in respect of her poor care.

Our solicitors obtained all of Mrs C’s relevant GP and hospital records, and notified the hospital at the first opportunity, through a Letter of Notification, of Mrs C’s family’s intention of bringing a negligence claim.

The hospital did not respond, and we therefore sent a Letter of Claim as per the Pre Action Protocol for the Resolution of Clinical Disputes.

The Defendant hospital responded through their legal provider and it was admitted that insufficient care and monitoring had been taken of Mrs C. This had resulted in her suffering from a pressure sore on her sacrum that was allowed to continue to breakdown and deteriorate, and ultimately led to sepsis and her very sad passing.

Our medical negligence lawyers entered into negotiations with the Defendant and were able to obtain £37,000 compensation for Mrs C’s family.

Further information

When hospital staff fail to take measures to avoid or treat pressure sores, it can lead to serious complications. If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of pressure sore negligence, our expert solicitors can help.

Our medical negligence lawyers work with clients across the UK from our six offices in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. For a no-obligation initial chat with an expert member of our team, call us on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.


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