Payout for family of woman who developed fatal pressure sores in care home

Audrey Peace died after pressure sores became infected.
Audrey Peace died after pressure sores became infected.

Compensation has been paid to the family of a woman who died after developing 'large infected pressure sores' at a County Durham care home.

Audrey Peace, 81, of Pelton, near Chester-le-Street, died in March 2012 from ‘large infected pressure sores’ after alleged inadequate treatment at the care home where she lived.

A legal claim was brought against Durham County Council and Durham and Darlington NHS Trust by Mrs Peace before she died in relation to the poor care she had received.

After her death, her daughter Karen Armstrong, also from Pelton, took over the legal claim in relation to poor nursing care, leading to severe deterioration of pressure sores and Mrs Peace's death.

On 28 December 2011 Mrs Peace suffered a fall at home and fractured her arm.

She attended A&E at University Hospital North Durham and was discharged to Mendip House, a care home managed at the time by Durham County Council.

Mrs Peace stayed there for six weeks, during which she developed severe pressure sores.

While at the home she was attended to by district nurses employed by the trust.

A medical expert said there were failures to treat and adequately document the sores.

One on her elbow was completely missed by the district nurses and the care home staff until it was noted at an orthopaedic outpatient appointment.

Mrs Peace was discharged home from Mendip House on 6 February 2012, but according to the expert an insufficient care package was put in place.

Her health and the condition of the sores declined rapidly, and she was readmitted to hospital on 11 February, where it was noted that her pressure sores were infected.

Her condition continued to deteriorate, and she died on 25 March, 2012. The primary cause of death stated on her death certificate was ‘large infected pressure sores’.

As well as taking over her mother's case, Mrs Armstrong raised concerns about how she was treated during the complaints process by both the trust and the council.

She complained to both the parliamentary and health service ombudsman and the local government ombudsman, whose joint report last year found failings by the council and the trust.

Several admissions were made by Durham and Darlington NHS Trust and an offer to settle quickly followed in October 2015.

The case against the council in relation to the claim under the Human Rights Act was settled in July last year, and damages were received.

Mrs Armstrong said: “Nothing is ever going to bring my mam back, but we now have at least some sense of closure.

"I hope the trust and the council have learned lessons from my mam’s case and will put these into action, so no other family has to go through what we have been through.”