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Failure To Diagnose Anal Sphincter Damage

Anal sphincter damage is an accepted risk of vaginal births and is not always something that can be avoided. If such an injury does occur during delivery, all medical professionals can do is diagnose the problem and perform a competent repair. As long as this is done soon after the birth, a woman stands a good chance of making a full recovery. However, if there is a delay, the prognosis becomes less favourable.

Diagnosing obstetric sphincter damage

All women who have had a vaginal birth must undergo a vaginal and rectal examination soon after the delivery. After an examination of the genitalia, the doctor or midwife should insert their index finger in the anal canal and their thumb in the vagina. The anal sphincter can then be palpated by performing a pin-rolling motion with the thumb and finger. Using this technique, a competent medical professional will be able to detect any damage to the anal sphincter.

If a woman has sustained an injury to her anal sphincter, a repair should be performed in theatre by a qualified surgeon. After the wound has been sutured a vaginal and digital rectal examination should be repeated, as this is the best way to ensure the defect has been repaired.

Does a failure to diagnose sphincter damage amount to negligence?

However, in some very rare cases a woman will leave hospital completely unaware that she has suffered obstetric sphincter damage. In such patients the problem often only becomes apparent when she begins to experience symptoms associated with a sphincter defect most notably, this will involve incontinence of faeces and flatus.

Understandably anyone who has been left with an undiagnosed sphincter injury will want to why it was not detected soon after the birth. Ordinarily, this will be for one of two reasons:-

1. Medical professionals failed to performed a vaginal and a rectal examination;

2. Medical professionals performed a vaginal and rectal examination, but did not do so competently, meaning the injury was missed.

In both cases, the failure to diagnose sphincter damage after a vaginal delivery will amount to medical negligence. The woman in question will subsequently be entitled to make a claim which, if successful, will ensure she is compensated for the damages she has incurred.

Have you got a medical negligence claim?

If you have recently been diagnosed with obstetric sphincter damage, but this injury was not identified at the time of delivery, you may be in a position to make a medical negligence claim. To find out more information, you need to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible.

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Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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Can We Help You With A Medical Negligence Enquiry?

Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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