Claim against hospital nursing staff
Sharon underwent surgery to remove a large non-malignant tumour from her left ovary. When she returned from surgery she had been fitted with an epidural for pain relief. Sharon was unable to move for the first few days after the surgery. She was on a standard bed and was not turned by the nursing staff.
The day before Sharon was due to be discharged from hospital, a doctor came to check on the surgery. He pulled back the bed covers and discovered a large pressure sore on the heel of Sharon’s right foot. It was like a blood filled sack and required dressing. Sharon was told that it was important that the pressure sore did not burst to prevent infection. Sharon was discharged from hospital in a wheelchair and told not to put her foot down to prevent the pressure sore from bursting.
The pressure sore was painful and took about three months to heal, but it left a hard lump on Sharon’s right heel. Sharon required surgery to have this lump removed.
What were the legal issues?
Sharon’s mother contacted Coffin Mew LLP to ascertain whether Sharon could claim compensation for her injuries. One of our specialist Clinical Negligence Solicitors advised her that Sharon did have a potential claim against the hospital. The legal issues to address were whether the treatment she received from the nursing staff fell below the standard of care required by that of a reasonable body of nursing staff, and whether the failure to provide Sharon with a special pressure relieving mattress or to monitor the pressure areas caused Sharon to be left with a large lump on her right heel.
Clinical negligence claims are complex. We wrote to the hospital, and after completing their internal investigations the NHS Litigation Authority admitted liability for Sharon’s injuries.
What medical evidence was needed?
We obtained all of Sharon’s medical records and reviewed these before instructing a nursing expert to advise whether the treatment Sharon received from the nursing staff, whilst in hospital fell below an acceptable standard. This concluded that there was a failure to carry out an assessment of Sharon’s risk of developing a pressure sore, as well as a failure to inspect the position of the lower limbs and check for pressure sore damage. There was also a failure to undertake methods to alleviate and distribute the pressure by safe repositioning, handling and moving of Sharon onto different parts of her body or by the provision of appropriate support surfaces, combined with observation of all the pressure areas in good light and to make a note of the findings.
Once we received this report we also instructed an orthopaedic surgeon, to advise us whether the failures by the nursing staff made any difference to Sharon’s condition. This report concluded that had the appropriate care been given to Sharon, she would not have developed the pressure sore at all and therefore the further surgery to remove the lump on Sharon’s right heel would not have been needed. The orthopaedic surgeon also provided a report detailing Sharon’s injuries and what treatment was needed in the future.
What was the settlement?
We were able to negotiate a settlement and in total Sharon received £15,000.00 in damages.