University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust Admitted ‘Omissions’ In Care Led To Heel Injuries
A Birmingham man who struggles to walk after he developed pressure sores during a hospital stay has spoken out on the impact the injuries have on his daily life.
In April 2020, Martyn Cope, 62, from Druids Heath, was feeling generally unwell and tired and was prescribed antibiotics but his health declined. On 11 April he was taken by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
He received treatment for a septic knee and was transferred to the Trauma and Orthopaedic ward the next day. On 16 April, he was found to have developed deep tissue injuries to his heels. He was discharged home on 30 April, since when he has been under the care of the local community nursing team.
Following his injuries, Martyn and his wife Jane, 57, instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care he received under the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust which runs Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and whether more could have been done to prevent the damage to his heels.
Martyn and Jane complained to the hospital about the treatment he received and an investigation was undertaken. The Trust sent a letter to them in which it stated that there were “omissions” with regards to Martyn’s daily skin inspections and repositioning, and a full risk assessment had not been carried out. Furthermore, on admission to the Trauma and Orthopaedic ward on 12 April, Martyn was assessed as having a Waterlow score of 29, indicating a ‘very high risk’ of him developing a pressure sore. As a result, he should have been put on an appropriate air mattress. This was not actioned, however, until four days later.
The Trust apologised to Martyn for the development of pressure ulcers on his heels which they deemed “an avoidable harm as a result of the omissions in care” and assured that “actions have been taken” to prevent such occurrences in the future.
Tissue Viability Nurses are currently seeing Martyn once a week to change the dressing on his left heel and he also attends a weekly wound care assessment.
Expert Opinion“It has been an incredibly difficult time for Martyn. He went into hospital for treatment and ended up leaving with further issues.
He now struggles to even get around his house, and both he and Jane are finding it hard to come to terms with the injury he has suffered. They continue to have concerns over the care he received in hospital and we are determined to help them get the answers they deserve.
While we can’t turn back the clock and change what’s happened, we welcome that the Trust has acknowledged there were omissions in the care provided.”
Jennifer Shipley - Associate Solicitor
Martyn’s admission to hospital on 11 April 2020 took place during the first Covid-19 lockdown, and restrictions meant that Jane was unable to visit him. On 12 April, she was advised that Martyn was being treated for sepsis.
The following day he was moved to the ward. He underwent an angioplasty and x-ray of his feet on 21 April, before his discharge on the 30 April.
A former dental technician, Martyn has been married to Jane for 24 years. The couple have two children and four grandchildren.
He said: “Since my time in hospital, I have really struggled with the damage left to my heels. It’s not just the continuing dressing changes and the restrictions that I have to contend with, it’s also the lack of mobility and not being able to get out and about – even around my own home.
“Jane has always been a huge support to me over the years, but now I rely on her more than ever. I don’t know what I would do without her.
“I know nothing can change what I have been through, but I am determined to recover as best I can. In the meantime, I am grateful that the Trust has come forward and admitted that my care was not to the level expected. All I can hope for now is that the actions taken stop anybody else going through this.”