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Pressure Sores

Pressure Sores – An Overview

The NHS estimate that just under half a million people in the UK will develop a pressure sore; also known as pressure ulcer, bedsore or decubitus ulcer every year.

Pressure ulcers can develop when pressure is applied to an area of skin over a period of time. They occur more commonly in patients who are immobile and bed ridden or are confined to a wheelchair.

Pressure ulcers once formed can range in severity from the discoloration of the skin to open wounds and the effects can range from pain and discomfort to amputation or even death.

However they are preventable.

When a patient enters the health care system be that an NHS Hospital, a Private hospital or a nursing home they should be assessed for their risk of developing a pressure ulcer.

Once assessed the healthcare team should ensure that if the patient is at risk of developing a pressure sore, an appropriate plan is put in place to prevent this. This could involve ensuring that the patient regularly moves. If the patient is unable to move then they should be assisted and repositioned by the healthcare team. This should help reduce the chance of developing a pressure ulcer. In addition the facility may be able to provide specialist mattresses, chairs and cushions to the most at risk patients.

The NHS website suggests that a bed ridden patient should be moved once every two hours and a patient who is wheelchair bound should be moved every fifteen to thirty minutes.

If you have suffered with a pressure ulcer in the last 3 years and believe that your healthcare provider was at fault then please contact us now. Please click here , fill in our enquiry form on this page, or telephone us on 01244 659404 or 0800 0857777.

What is a Pressure Sore?

When pressure is applied to the skin it can obstruct the blood flow that it requires. Without the blood flow the skin in that localised area is deprived of oxygen and nutrients and begins to break down. This leads to the pressure sore forming.

Pressure sores generally develop in bony areas and areas that do not have a large amount of body fat and are in direct contact with a surface, such as a bed or a wheelchair.

For instance, a bed ridden patient lying on their back could develop a pressure sore on their heels, buttocks, spine, shoulder blades, back of the head or even on the rims of their ears.

Anyone sitting in a chair or wheelchair and lacking mobility could develop a pressure sore on the backs of their legs or arms, hips and buttocks.

Pressure Sore Grading

Under the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP) grading system there are four grades of pressure sore, the higher the grade the more severe the injury.

Grade 1

The skin is discoloured but remains intact. In addition it may feel warm and spongy or hard, but when the area is pressed the ulcer will not turn white.

Grade 2

The skin will no longer be intact it will appear cracked, blistered or broken. Surrounding areas of skin will now be discoloured.

Grade 3

There will be skin loss at the site of the pressure sore and the exposed area and underlying soft tissue may now be suffering with necrosis. It will now look like a deep wound.

Grade 4

The skin is now severely damaged and the soft tissue will be dying away exposing muscle and bone.

Risk Assessment

All patients should be assessed on entering hospital. There are a number of different systems and the NICE guidelines recommend using the Braden scale, the Waterlow score or the Norton risk-assessment scale.

Whilst the main factor in developing a pressure sore is the patients lack of mobility there are other factors which it is believed can contribute to the risk of developing a pressure sore. These include a low protein diet; damp conditions brought on by, for instance, sweating or incontinence; loss of sensation, for instance paralysis and a previous history of pressure sores.


If a pressure sore has developed then it is imperative that the healthcare team treat the patient quickly and effectively as the ulcer can deteriorate and become more severe.

Pressure relieving equipment such as special mattresses and cushions should be provided to the patient, as well as making sure they are regularly moved. Equipment such as heel caps can also be provided.

Pain killers will commonly be prescribed to alleviate the pain the patient feels from the pressure sore.

With a severe pressure sore the treatment may include an operation to remove the dead tissue.

All Grades of pressure sore increase the risk of infection but with a Grade 4 pressure sore the risk of a fatal infection is present.

Medical Negligence – Making a Claim

It is estimated that 95% of pressure sores that develop in hospital are preventable with the right assessment of the patients risk, not just on admission but on an ongoing basis, together with the implementation of a proper care plan which is then followed by the healthcare team.

At The Roland Partnership we have been successful in recovering compensation for our clients who have developed pressure sores due to the negligence of their healthcare providers.

If you or a member of your family has suffered with a pressure sore in the last 3 years and you believe that your healthcare provider was at fault then please contact us for a free no obligation discussion regarding your circumstances.

If suitable we can provide you with a No Win No Fee Agreement and investigate your claim for you. We will make the process easy and straightforward to follow for your peace of mind.

Please complete the enquiry form on this page or click here to send us your details. If you would prefer then please contact us on 01244 659404 or 0800 0857777.


Mr L received £2,100,000 after suffering cerebal palsy as a result of medical negligence. The first liability expert had advised there was no breach of duty of care, so the case was passed on to The Roland Partnership's eminent causation expert. The defendants vigorously denied liability and The Roland Partnership's expert said it was one of the most difficult cases he had dealt with. The claim was settled shortly before trial.

An eight year old boy received £1,500,000 through The Roland Partnership after receiving serious injuries whilst waiting at a bus stop. Two cars crashed into the bus stop, causing it to collapse onto him, leaving him with personality changes and weakness on one side.

Mrs M was knocked down by a car when crossing a road. She was partly responsible for the accident, having run out into the road without first checking it was safe to do so. Nevertheless, she received over £1,100,000 after representation by The Roland Partnership.