In April 2013, our customer Albertha Minnot developed a diabetic foot sore on her left foot. The care home she lived initially put gauze on the wound and there was supposed to be someone coming to the care home from the foot service, every week, to check the wound.
A couple of months later; Albertha became very unwell and had gone ‘blank’ and appeared to be having some form of seizure. No ambulance was initially called and her daughter was told the care home was putting her back to bed. Albertha’s granddaughter went to the care home to check on her grandmother and her family called an ambulance, which arrived shortly after. The paramedics decided to take Albertha to hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital, doctors noted that Albertha’s blood pressure was high and that she only had her bottom set of teeth in, meaning she had not been able to eat properly. Given the Claimant was diabetic this was particularly concerning. The hospital expressed concerns about her care and advised that she was hungry and dehydrated.
A CT scan was carried out, however, didn’t show anything new. There was a suspicion that Albertha had suffered a mini-stroke. She has previously suffered mini-strokes, and was wheelchair bound and paralysed down the left side of her body.
The ambulance service and hospital both suggested that they would make a safeguarding report and these events prompted Albertha’s granddaughter to make a complaint about the care Albertha was receiving at the care home.
Towards the end of September, the care home Albertha was living in made the decision that they were not going to send her to the day centre due to her change in condition. Her family raised concerns about her condition and did ask about dementia.
Albertha’s granddaughter spoke to one of her doctors who advised that the condition that changed their position was Albertha’s diabetes medication. It was explained that the medication had started to affect Albertha’s kidneys and it had been changed as a result. Albertha didn’t go back to the day centre again after this.
At this time, the sore on Albertha’s foot was still there, however being managed. Her family enquired why the care home was not moving Albertha from her wheelchair to relieve the pressure on her foot and were told she had a pressure sore on her bottom. From this time onwards, Albertha’s granddaughter would visit and call the nurses to move Albertha.
Albertha would complain about the pain the sore caused her, her family would regularly attend and move her from remaining in the same position on her pressure sore.
In November, Albertha was taken to hospital as she had become unresponsive. The care home called an ambulance and it was discovered that Albertha had MRSA and was dehydrated. She was admitted to a high dependency unit and her family were warned she may go into organ failure.
Albertha remained in the hospital for nearly two months, when she was discharged her family felt she was doing quite well. Due to Albertha’s diabetes, it was difficult for the pressure sores to heal completely, however they could be controlled and managed to prevent them from getting worse.
Several months later in March, Albertha’s granddaughter noticed Albertha was deteriorating. She had started to complain of pain, in locations other than were her sores had been, such as her knee.
In June, Albertha was admitted to hospital and her family were advised she had osteomyelitis, an infection in her bone, and sepsis as a result of the deep pressure sore. Albertha was in a lot of pain at this point and was provided morphine to control her pain. When the hospital nurses first cleaned Albertha’s sores, she was crying in pain and very distressed. Her sore was very deep and had to be packed with gauze.
Albertha was admitted to hospital and a few days’ later doctors wanted to discuss the possibility of amputating Albertha’s foot. Due to diabetes and the sores on her legs, the only option was to amputate. At the point, Albertha made the decision to not have her legs amputated and her family agreed with her wishes.
From this time Albertha became weaker and weaker, she began sleeping more and in July, she passed away at 86 years old.
Following Albertha’s death, a complaint was issued to the Care Quality Commission in relation to Albertha’s treatment. The hospital also raised a safeguarding issue and a hearing was required to take place. In the January, Albertha’s granddaughter received a letter which stated Albertha was not turned regularly whilst in bed.
Albertha’s family contact Fletchers to bring a medical negligence claim against the care home, we investigated their claim and in May 2018, settled their care.
Lucia Parkinson, a solicitor at Fletchers, handled the case and commented,
The case highlights the importance of identifying and treating pressure sores promptly. As a result of the delay, Albertha sadly passed away as her pressure sores developed into osteomyelitis. Due to Albertha’s age and health issues, it was not appropriate to carry out an amputation and as such Albertha passed away. If identified earlier this could have been avoided and Albertha would not have spent her last days in such pain.