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Perineal Trauma Claims

Perineal Trauma Claims

During childbirth, it is not uncommon for a woman's perineal region to sustain some form of trauma. This must be diagnosed and repaired shortly after the delivery. If there is a failure to do so, there may be grounds for a compensation claim.

Perineal tears

During a vaginal delivery the perineum will stretch in order to allow the baby to pass through the vaginal opening. Sometimes the perineum cannot stretch far enough and it will tear.

The severity of a perineal tear can vary greatly from person to person. For this reason medical professionals have a devised a system for classifying the extent of a perineal injury. There are four different types that can be described as follows:-

  • First degree tear: laceration of the vaginal epithelium (the tissue lining the vagina) or perineal skin only;
  • Second degree tear: laceration of the perineal muscles and fascia as well as the vaginal epithelium and perineal skin. The anal sphincter is not involved;
  • Third degree tear: laceration of the anal sphincters, as well as the vaginal epithelium, perineal skin and perineal body;
  • Fourth degree tear: the same as a third degree tear, but the injury extends to the tissue underneath (the anal epithelium).

Diagnosing and repairing perineal tears

After the birth, a woman should be examined by either a midwife or doctor. The purpose of this is to check whether or not a tear has been sustained, and if so, what type of tear is present. The procedure should include a digital rectal examination, as this is the only way to exclude/diagnose third and fourth degree tears.

If a first or second degree tear is diagnosed, a repair can be carried out in the delivery suite by either a midwife or a doctor. If a third or fourth degree tear is diagnosed, a repair should be carried out in theatre by a surgeon.

Third and fourth degree tears

Unfortunately perineal tears are not always identified and repaired. This is the cause of most perineal trauma claims. Indeed, the occurrence of a tear in itself does not normally amount to negligence. This is a normal part of childbirth.

But what will be deemed negligent is if the injury is not diagnosed and/or is not properly repaired. This is especially true of third and fourth degree tears which can lead to devastating problems if left untreated, including faecal incontinence and urgency.

Claim for perineal tears

If your third or fourth degree tear was not diagnosed or repaired after the birth of your child, contact us today to discuss making a compensation claim.

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