A pressure sore (also known as a bed sore or pressure ulcer) is an area of skin that becomes damaged over time when the blood supply to a particular part of the body is reduced or cut off. This can be caused by sitting or lying in the same position for too long. Pressure sores can also develop if a plaster cast is applied too tightly following a fracture.
The parts of the body most susceptible to getting pressure sores are bony prominences such as the heels, elbows, buttocks and sacrum.
Pressure sores can be prevented by ensuring a person changes position regularly and by ensuring that regular skin inspections are carried out to spot and treat the initial signs. If a person is at high risk of developing pressure sores, measures should be put in place to prevent sores developing. For example, the person can be nursed on a special air mattress or provided with cushions to elevate the heels and prevent pressure damage.
If a pressure sore develops from a tightly applied plaster cast, the cast should be removed and the area of the body inspected when signs of pain are reported.
Most commonly, we deal with medical negligence claims where adequate pressure sore prevention measures have not been put in place by nursing staff. Once a pressure sore develops, it can be hard to treat, particularly if the person is elderly and frail. If the sore becomes infected, blood poisoning, gangrene and ultimately amputation can follow in the worst cases. Prevention is therefore the key.
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