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Can I Sue the NHS for a Missed Fourth Degree Tear?

Can I Sue the NHS for a Missed Fourth Degree Tear?

If you suffered a fourth degree tear during childbirth and have not been repaired, you are probably experiencing shocking bowel symptoms. It may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Fourth degree tears

It is absolutely imperative that any anal damage caused by vaginal childbirth is identified at the time of the birth and swiftly repaired. If you suffered a fourth degree tear during the birth of your child but no diagnosis or repair was made, you may be entitled to compensation.

Whereas most perineal tears are fairly superficial and only affect the area around the vagina, third and fourth degree tears damage the anal sphincter.

The anal sphincter is the muscles which are crucial to effective functioning of the bowel. It is these muscles which allow an individual to prevent wind and faeces from exiting the body via the anus uncontrollably. If the anal sphincter muscles do not function, the affected person may find that they are passing wind and faeces without meaning to.

A fourth degree tear causes damage to the skin and muscle between the vagina and the anus as well as tearing both the external and internal anal sphincter and the internal lining of the anal canal.

Responding to a fourth degree tear

It is vital that such an injury is repaired shortly after the birth in order to give the new mother the best chance of a full recovery of bowel function.

Without a skilled repair, the woman may suffer the following appalling symptoms for the rest of her life:

  • Inability to control the passing of wind
  • Inability to control the passing of faeces
  • Extreme urgency when needing the toilet

Sometimes, a fourth degree tear can develop into a fistula, or hole, between the rectum and vagina, allowing wind and faeces to seep into the vagina and leak from there.

Delayed surgery may be attempted and the woman may find that she requires a colostomy to replace the normal function of her bowels.

Diagnosing a fourth degree tear

These horrific symptoms and experiences can all be avoided if anal damage is diagnosed at the time of the birth. Failing to examine a woman thoroughly after the birth of her child or misdiagnosing any damage is likely to be regarded as substandard care.

If the woman affected subsequently suffers significant and debilitating symptoms as a result, it may well be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Speak to a solicitor

If you are suffering the appalling symptoms of a fourth degree tear, you are probably finding that it affects almost every area of your life. Your ability to work may be affected and your willingness to socialise may have been impacted. Every day may feel as if it revolves around being close to a toilet.

Here at Glynns we have supported many women in making successful compensation claims for misdiagnosed perineal damage. Contact us today to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor with expertise in perineal tear claims.

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