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Can I Get Compensation for a Fourth Degree Tear?

Can I Get Compensation for a Fourth Degree Tear?

A fourth degree tear is the most severe form of perineal damage during childbirth. It requires a highly-skilled repair to avoid long-term bowel problems. A failure to diagnose and treat such an injury may be regarded as negligence and justify a claim for compensation.

Fourth degree tears

A fourth degree tear suffered during vaginal childbirth will extend from the vagina across the perineum to the anus. It is defined by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists as causing the following damage:

  • Injury to the external anal sphincter muscle
  • Injury to the internal anal sphincter muscle
  • Damage to the anal mucosa, lining the anal canal

It can additionally lead to the development of a fistula or abnormal hole between the rectum and the vagina, allowing wind and faeces to leak via the vagina rather than leaving the body via the anus as normal.

The loss of bowel control associated with these injuries can cause extreme distress as well as limiting the woman's capacity to work, travel and socialise.

Compensation and fourth degree tears

Suffering a fourth degree tear is not necessarily an indication of negligence. A severe tear is a risk of vaginal childbirth, especially for the following groups of women:

  • Those experiencing vaginal childbirth for the first time
  • Those giving birth to a heavier than usual baby
  • Women of Asian ethnicity
  • Women undergoing an instrumental birth i.e. with forceps or a ventouse

Medical negligence

Where medical professionals might be considered to have been negligent is if the 4th degree tear is not accurately diagnosed and effectively repaired shortly after the birth.

A delay in diagnosis can leave the new mother with appalling bowel problems. She is likely to have lost her ability to control her bowels meaning that she may leak wind and faeces unintentionally. She has been rendered incontinent.

A delay in repairing a fourth degree tear can also mean that any subsequent surgery is less likely to be successful.

There is also the possibility that the woman may require a colostomy bag to carry out the function of her bowels on either a temporary or permanent basis.

Get legal advice

If you are suffering significant on-going symptoms due to a failure to treat your fourth degree tear effectively, you need to speak with a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

Here at Glynns Solicitors we have supported numerous women in making highly-successful compensation claims for poor perineal tear management, and would be very happy to advise you.

Please call us on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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"Before we contacted you we had no real idea that we had grounds for a medical negligence claim but after speaking to you if became clear that Wendy was indeed treated poorly. Chris took the time to explain what was happening and kept us to speed. Our deepest gratitude to you all and Chris in particular."

"I would like to say a big thank you to you for making this whole process easy and relatively painless. You kept me informed throughout and you were always polite and courteous in all forms of communication. I would not hesitate to recommend you to friends and family, so a really big thank you and I wish you all the best in the future."

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