Woman Left With Pressure Sore So Deep It Infected Her Bone

Newcastle Woman Urges Others To Speak Up Over Quality Of Care After Three-Year ‘Excruciating Ordeal’

15.08.2011

A disabled Tyneside woman who was left hospitalised for over two years – and facing an excruciating operation to remove part of her thigh bone – after nursing staff failed to correctly treat a pressure sore hopes a legal victory will help to restore her independence.

District nursing staff caring for wheelchair user Angela Banks, 47, failed to spot that a pressure sore that first appeared in September 2005 was becoming infected.

The infection was so bad that by May 2006, Angela, who lives alone in Heaton, was left delirious, shaking and vomiting, and was rushed to the RVI by an ambulance crew who had to break into her flat to tend to her. The pressure sore was eventually treated, leaving a gaping wound the size of two fists, and an operation was carried out to remove the infected area of thigh bone in June 2007.

Five years on, she has been left more disabled as a result, endured a two-and-a-half year continuous stay in hospital, and become increasingly dependent on help from carers and her family.

She turned to clinical negligence specialists at the North East office of national law firm Irwin Mitchell to secure a settlement from Newcastle Primary Care Trust (PCT) that will help provide for her future care needs.

The case was settled following an admission of liability from the PCT and Angela’s solicitor, Julia Cotterill from Irwin Mitchell, said the settlement would help to restore Angela’s independence.

“Angela had spent her life living with Spina Bifida, but she had been enjoying an independent and fulfilling life – she lived alone, enjoyed a range of social activities and relied on minimal levels of care,” Julia added.

“However, this has been undermined by a failure to escalate treatment of a medical complaint that should have been dealt with quickly and easily.

“Angela wasn’t a naïve patient who was prone to complaining – she had personal experience of dealing with pressure sores and was fully aware that this particular one was turning bad.

“Despite Angela expressing her ongoing concerns to district nurses over the course of several months, the pressure sore grew worse, became infected, and she was not given a referral to have it treated correctly until it was far too late.

“She was left in a shocking condition as a result – the stay in hospital has left her with a number of further illnesses, including a bout of MRSA that delayed further vital treatment, and she was also left psychologically institutionalised.

“We have secured an undisclosed settlement from Newcastle PCT that will go some way towards allowing Angela to live independently once more – and, significantly, will give her the peace of mind that she is accessing the care she needs and deserves.

“This is an important case which has allowed Angela to access justice and secure the care she needs, but it would not have been possible without the support of Legal Aid. The Government plans to cut Legal Aid funding in these cases, hitting the most vulnerable people in society and those most in need of help from the law the hardest, and we urge ministers to think again.”

Angela, a professional dog trainer who used to drive throughout the North attending dog shows, said she now hopes her case will encourage others to speak out if they feel they are not being treated correctly.

Angela said: “I am much less independent and need a lot of expensive new equipment, including a new specialised wheelchair and a new car that can be operated from my wheelchair. This settlement will play a huge role in providing the critical support and equipment I need.

“The one thing I really hope will come from my case, aside from regaining my independence and being able to socialise and enjoy my life more, is that others will learn from my experience. Not only that lessons are learnt by healthcare staff, but that other patients, who know they have something wrong, speak up for themselves.

“It took months for my complaints to be taken seriously, but even since then I have had to be particularly insistent when it comes to certain aspects of my treatment. I hope nobody else ever has to go through what I have, but I suspect they will have to speak up at every opportunity to make sure that doesn’t happen.”