The specialist medical teams who helped an elderly patient recover from a significant pressure wound have been praised as ‘nothing is too much trouble’ by the grateful patient.
One September evening, 83-year-old Margaret Lowrey fell from her bed in her Billingham bungalow.
Landing awkwardly with her leg trapped under her, Margaret lay there all night until the next morning when her daughter Nicole found her.
Rushed into hospital suffering a badly broken femur, which was made more complex by Margaret’s earlier hip replacement and pre-existing osteoporosis, the emergency assessment unit (EAU) team at the University Hospital of North Tees also diagnosed a ‘unstageable pressure ulcer’ on her posterior. The ulcer was caused by Margaret laying on the floor, unable to move all night.
Essentially a large black bruise in appearance, the ulcer is considered ‘unstageable’ as it is not possible to assess the stage of the damage caused. Pressure ulcers can be very serious, impacting layers of skin, muscle and even bones.
The EAU team called in the Trust’s Tissue Viability team who recommended a plan of action.
A pressure relieving mattress was installed in the bed, along with a repositioning plan to move Margaret every two hours to prevent the wound from getting worse, the application of expert dressings and topical creams and regular photographs taken to assess the wound as treatment continued. The team also monitored Margaret’s fluid intake and diet.
Margaret said: “Everyone has been lovely. If I have to press the buzzer, they’re here straight away. Nothing is too much trouble.
“Everyone is great, from the cleaners to the medical staff.
“I’ve had so many photos of my bottom taken, I think they’re going to be displayed in the Tate Gallery! But once you’ve had babies, you’re not embarrassed about anything.”
While Margaret’s pressure wound has healed and she is in much less pain and there is less chance of severe infection, she is unfortunately still on the hospital’s orthopaedic ward as her broken femur struggles to respond to treatment.
Keeping herself busy with crosswords and chatting to other patients, Margaret may still be in hospital over the Christmas period but will be kept company by her daughters, Nicole and Diane, and her two granddaughters Lois and Ruby.
Orthopaedic ward matron Julie Savage, said: “Margaret is such a pleasure to look after.
“She’s been on the ward for two months now and we’ve got to know her really well.
“Margaret is always friendly and does what she needs to help her own recovery, including all the actions our Tissue Viability team planned.
“We’re all working hard to mend her broken leg and get her home as soon as it’s safe.
“People often don’t grasp how painful and potentially dangerous a pressure ulcer can be. Working in partnership with our Tissue Viability team was key and by following their advice and guidance, we were able to help Margaret avoid any serious complications.”
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust Tissue Viability team offers the following advice for people, especially those who are less mobile, to avoid risking pressure ulcers at home:
- Check skin regularly for damage – any discoloured skin over a bony area that does not change colour when pressed is the first sign of pressure damage
- If you are stationary for a long period of time, either in bed or a chair, consider using pressure relieving equipment
- Reposition as regularly as you are able to but as a minimum every two hours
- Seek support for any continence issues
- Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids
- If you have any concerns, seek medical advice