Police urged to examine bed sore 'neglect' cases
CALLS have been made for police to pursue manslaughter charges against health and care professionals who fail to spot potentially fatal pressure sores.
Concerns have been raised over the number of cases of immobile people developing sores and dying due to infected wounds.
Now campaigners have called for toughter punishments to anyone found guilty of neglect, after three cases were heard by a coroner in just one month.
And health experts claim more needs to be done to train care workers to spot the wounds.
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Pressure sores are wounds to the skin caused by sitting or lying in one position for too long.
They can also be caused by ill-fitting footwear, sliding down the bed, inappropriate wheel or arm charms, along with poor nutrition.
Alex Shaw, a member of North Staffordshire Pensioners Convention, said: "Pressure sores are not that unusual but I am concerned about the circumstances of some of these deaths.
"I read about one in The Sentinel then a further two were reported that month. It seems to be happening more often."
The 72-year-old, of Longton, added: "I have contacted the police. I just feel that if we could get a conviction it would send a clear message out."
John Davis, chairman of the association, added: "It is terrible to think that people in the late stages of their life have to suffer this sort of agony.
"There have been some horrific cases in the past and it appears to be simple criminal negligence."
The UHNS reports any cases of pressure sores found on patients who have been receiving care either in-home or from a facility.
Sian Fumarola, a clinical nurse specialist for tissue viability for the UHNS, said: "If a patient comes to us with sores we may invoke the safeguarding procedure. If they are receiving care then the individual is a vulnerable resident.
"If they are receiving 24 hour care then we expect them to receive it."
Sian has also raised concerns over in-home care where staff are not always trained to spot medical problems.
She added: "They are not trained nurses, they are giving a different level of care. They are not trained in skin assessment as there is no legislative requirement."
"Pressure sores are a more serious condition than people realise. It could be a hidden epidemic as we don't find the wounds until they come to us."
The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership Trust works with other NHS Trusts and care providers to improve patient safety and tackle the problem of pressure sores.
Sue Mason, the partnership's tissue viability expert, said: "Our tissue viability teams work closely with our own staff, patients and their families and carers and other care providers to raise awareness of the harm pressure ulcers can present.
"We give advice and support to nursing homes, including support for training sessions, to raise awareness of the causes and signs of pressure ulcers."