HOSPITAL bosses have begun a clamp down on bed sores as part of a bid to deliver ‘harm free care’.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has introduced a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to serious pressure ulcers, with 12 wards now exploring new ways to protect elderly patients.

Ward staff will also be hauled before the chief nurse to explain any ‘Grade 3 or 4’ pressure sores that occurred under their care.

Pressure ulcers are caused when an area of skin is placed under pressure, and can range in severity from patches of discoloured skin to open wounds that expose the underlying bone or muscle.

Elderly people are particularly vulnerable, and in rare cases they can lead to life-threatening complications, such as blood poisoning or gangrene.

Chief nurse Christine Pearson said: “The process is designed to hold relevant staff to account for the harm that has occurred to patients whilst in their care and as such, attendance before the panel could be perceived as an uncomfortable experience for staff.”

She said staff that attended the initial panel meetings had ‘displayed a willingness to be open and honest... and determination to learn and change practice as a result’.

Meanwhile, data obtained by the Lancashire Telegraph has revealed the trust’s pressure sore hot spots.

Last year, there were 19 acquired by patients on Ward B8, a medical ward for elderly patients at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, up from 13 in 2012/13 and five in 2011/12. Wards C3 and C9 had 12 and 16 cases respectively, after similar increases since 2011.

Burnley General Hospital had a three-fold increase overall, from nine cases in 2011/12, to 14 in 2012/13, to 28 in 2013/14.

This compared to the overall trust figures of 203, 248 and 239 over the same period.

A dozen teams across the Royal Blackburn, Burnley General, Clitheroe Community Hospital and district nursing teams are now testing various improvements, including additional training.

Reducing ward transfers, mapping pressure areas on new patients and reporting damage immediately will also help to reduce the risk, bosses said.