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Anal Sphincter Injury Medical Negligence

Anal Sphincter Injury Medical Negligence

If a new mother suffers an anal sphincter injury during vaginal childbirth, it is crucial that it receives prompt and skilled medical attention. A failure to provide such care may be regarded as negligent.

What is an anal sphincter injury?

An anal sphincter injury which occurs during childbirth is an extended tear spreading from the vagina, across the perineum and damaging the anal sphincter around the anus.

The anal sphincter is the muscles, both internal and external, which control the opening and closing of the bowel, allowing a person to pass both wind and faeces.

Anal sphincter injuries in childbirth can vary in degree of severity and are classified as third or fourth degree according to how much damage they have caused. A 3a tear, from example will have damaged the external sphincter up to 50% where as a 4th degree tear will have damaged both the internal and external sphincter as well as the lining of the anal canal.

The impact of anal sphincter injuries

Anal sphincter injuries can cause appalling symptoms if they are not diagnosed and repaired promptly and effectively.

A woman with an unrepaired severe tear can suffer long-term bowel incontinence of both wind and faeces. She may suffer extreme urgency when needing the toilet and her life can seem to revolve entirely around ensuring that she has access to a toilet.

Such a debilitating injury can make sustaining employment extremely difficult and can restrict the woman's capacity to earn. Many women who are suffering the permanent symptoms of a severe perineal tear also suffer significant financial loss as a result of their injury.

Medical management of anal sphincter injuries

Due to their possible severity, medical management of anal sphincter injuries in childbirth needs to be both prompt and competent.

The key to good management of anal sphincter injuries in childbirth is receiving an accurate diagnosis of the injury which has been sustained.

Women who have given birth vaginally should receive a thorough examination following the birth, including a digital, rectal examination to ensure that any damage is diagnosed as promptly as possible.

Medical negligence

If the medical professionals attending a vaginal birth fail to carry out an adequate examination and/or fail to make an accurate diagnosis and repair of an anal sphincter injury, they may be considered to have provided substandard medical care.

If the woman suffers long-term symptoms as a result, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Speak to a solicitor

If you are suffering the consequences of a failure to diagnose and treat your anal sphincter injury, contact us today to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor who has expertise in supporting compensation claims for these injuries.

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