As a firm that specialises in clinical negligence cases – we have noticed that the number of injuries and deaths of vulnerable people, mainly elderly, in nursing/care homes and hospitals continues to rise each year. This is something that has been highlighted by a number of independent reports including one from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Despite the extent of this abuse, many of these victims (who are often old or people with learning difficulties) do not seek legal advice and as such do not receive compensation for their injuries. However, we believe that where a claim has merit it should be brought as often the hospital or care home provider will have no defence to the allegations of negligence.
Some of the claims that can be made on behalf of people in these circumstances are listed below:-
- assaults and unnecessary restraint, for example, patients who are restrained in bed against their wishes;
- pressure sores – in our experience there is usually no defence to a patient or resident developing a pressure sore, unless they could not be moved at all for medical reasons which is very unusual. They normally arise due to patients or residents not being moved regularly and being left in their own soaked beds or clothes;
- over-prescription of antipsychotics – most people with dementia experience behavioural and psychological symptoms, such as restlessness and shouting. Many of these symptoms can be prevented or managed without medication but patients or residents are given antipsychotics as a first resort without the staff identifying if other treatment is more appropriate;
- malnutrition and dehydration – there is no defence to either malnutrition or dehydration. We acknowledge that feeding weak and confused elderly patients is time consuming, but too often food is laid out and then collected without being eaten. Their food intake is not properly monitored and these patients or residents soon lose weight and this can worsen their ongoing health problems;
- falling over – older patients are more vulnerable to falling due to a number of risk factors, including impaired mobility, dementia, medication and the effects of their underlying medical illness. Often the underlying risk factors can be reduced with proper risk assessments etc. These falls which can lead to very serious injuries or cause the death of older patients;
- hospital or care home acquired infections (for example, MRSA) – the mere fact of contracting one of these infections is not evidence of negligence but in our experience they can be caused by a breach of Infection Control policies etc. which, once again, can trigger a downward spiral in an older person’s health.
If anyone has a family member or neighbour who has suffered poor care whilst in hospital or a care home, they should be encouraged to take legal advice as they are probably entitled to compensation for their injuries, which are often avoidable. Our contact details can be found here or you can see examples of recent elderly negligence cases handled by SJ Edney Solicitors.
SJ Edney Solicitors are specialists in medical negligence cases, if you have been affected by a medical error please get in touch with one of our regional offices in Swindon, Cheltenham, Bristol or Oxford, we can probably help you to claim the compensation to which you are entitled.