Since posting my blog about APIL’s pressure ulcer campaign
last week, I have seen the shocking results of a case which illustrates exactly
why our campaign to prevent these needless injuries is so important.
In 2008 a 61-year-old woman was admitted to hospital with a
rare inflammatory condition which caused damage to her spinal cord. While she
was in hospital, she developed pressure ulcers which were so serious they
caused infection of the bone marrow, shortening of the muscle tissue in her
legs, and a dislocated hip. She was unable to sit upright and had to spend most
of her time in bed.
While it’s certainly the case that the damage to her spinal
cord meant she would have been confined to a wheelchair after leaving hospital,
the needless additional damage caused by the pressure ulcers have had an even
more profound impact. If this appalling negligence had not occurred, the
patient would have been able to spend her waking hours out of bed in a standard
wheelchair which she could have propelled herself; she would have been able to
undertake some basic household tasks and would have been able to get out and
about much more than in her present condition. She would also have needed no
more than around seven hours of professional care a week.
Now, this poor woman needs two full-time carers on a 24-hour
basis, and will need to move house to a larger property to accommodate them.
The court has awarded her damages of almost £3 million to pay for her future
care and needs, and for her pain and suffering.
Here at APIL we often say that the best way for the
cash-strapped NHS to avoid having to pay compensation is to avoid the
negligence which leads to needless injuries in the first place. If ever there
was a case which proves that point, this is surely it.