My client moved into a new care home after finding that she was no longer able to live independently with at-home care. She was elderly and wheelchair-bound and, upon her admission to the home in Suffolk, she was identified as being at a high risk of developing pressure sores.
Within 2 months, my client had developed severe sores on her feet and this appeared to be due to improper and inadequate use of an air boot and a poor system of rotation/movement of my client. A GP was not called out to examine my client for another month and then gave instructions for a proper system of rotation and daily re-dressing of the sores. The GP also confirmed that referral to a Tissue Viability Nurse should be made but no such nurse was available in the local area without a hospital admission.
Proper dressings were not ordered and administered and my client was not regularly attended to. Her condition deteriorated with bone now visible at the sore site and yet no further medical attention was sought for another 2 months and, even at that point, the reason for the GP callout was for an unrelated matter.
2 weeks later (and 5 months after moving into the care home), the GP was called out and made an urgent referral to hospital. 2 days later, my client had to have her lower leg amputated below the knee.
After her discharge, my client could not face returning to the care home and her family ensured that she was moved to a different home where she was able to more happily spend her time until she passed a year later.
My client’s family were upset by the treatment she had received, especially in view of her frail condition prior to her admission to the care home and the fact that she would not have been able to independently appreciate or heed the severity of her sores. This made the lack of communication with the family even more significant.
The care home denied any wrongdoing or liability for my client’s suffering and subsequent amputation. We procured expert evidence from an independent consultant nurse, specialising in care for the elderly. The expert witness highlighted numerous failings in the care provided and the practices of the home (including failure to provide and seek proper and prompt medical attendances, poor record-keeping, inadequate stock of dressings and inadequate risk assessments).
Whilst the care home would not expressly concede liability, they did not seek to challenge the expert evidence and subsequently agreed to pay £30,000 to my client’s estate to reflect the suffering caused to her prior to her passing and the extra care home fees incurred.