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Claiming Compensation for Birth Injury Diagnosis Errors

Claiming Compensation for Birth Injury Diagnosis Errors

If a woman has suffered a tear to the perineum during vaginal childbirth, it is essential that she receives an accurate diagnosis. Without this, she may suffer permanent bowel problems.

Perineal tears vary considerably in extent, severity and the potential for long-term impact. If a more severe injury is mistakenly diagnosed as a less severe tear, the new mother may not receive the appropriate surgical repair, leaving her with on-going symptoms.

Perineal tear classification

Damage to the perineum during vaginal childbirth should be diagnosed and classified precisely and accurately according to the guidelines of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

  • 1st degree: damages the skin of the perineum, between the vagina and the anus
  • 2nd degree: damages the skin and muscle of the perineum
  • 3a tear: additionally damages up to 50% if the external anal sphincter
  • 3b tear: additionally damages more than 50% of the external anal sphincter
  • 3c tear: additionally damages the internal sphincter
  • 4th degree: additionally damages the internal anal mucosa or lining.

First and second degree tears are considered to be less severe than 3rd and 4th degree tears as they do not cause damage to the anal sphincter. This is the muscles which facilitate bowel control and damage to these can leave a woman suffering from incontinence of both wind and faeces.

The progressive nature of the classification of birth tears means that a misdiagnosis can leave the more severe damage unrecognised and, therefore, unrepaired.

Diagnosis and misdiagnosis

When a woman has given birth through the vagina, as opposed to by caesarean section, it is vital that she undergoes a thorough examination of her perineum and anus to check for any damage. If the rectal examination is missed, damage to the anal sphincter may not be identified.

For example, if a woman has suffered a 3rd degree tear, her external anal sphincter will have been damaged and her bowel function will be compromised. If, however, she only receives a diagnosis of a 2nd degree tear, the damage to her anal sphincter may not be repaired and her bowel problems may become permanent. Unfortunately, many woman fail to discuss their on-going symptoms with their medical professionals either due to embarrassment or in the mistaken belief that their degree of bowel dysfunction is normal after childbirth.

Again, if a woman has suffered a 4th degree tear, the most severe form of birth tear, but is only diagnosed as having suffered a 3a or 3b tear, any internal damage is likely to go unrepaired. This is likely to cause severe and possibly permanent bowel problems.

Medical negligence and compensation

If you or a loved one are suffering long-term bowel problems such as wind and faecal incontinence due to a failure to diagnose a severe birth tear, the relevant medical professionals may be regarded as having been negligent.

Contact Glynns Solicitors to discuss the suitability of making a claim for compensation.

We are a team of specialist medical negligence solicitors with considerable experience of supporting women who have suffered from the failure to diagnose severe anal sphincter birth injuries.

Contact us today to speak to one of our team.

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

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