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Claiming Compensation for Negligent Maternity Care

Claiming Compensation for Negligent Maternity Care

Negligent care of the woman's perineum during vaginal childbirth can lead to a lifetime of bowel incontinence and may justify a claim for compensation.

Perineal tears

The perineum is the region between the vagina and the anus and is sometimes the focus of severe injury when a woman gives birth. As the baby emerges from the vagina, the surrounding structures need to stretch and a tear to the woman's skin and muscle can occur.

For the vast majority of women, such a tear is fairly small and superficial and, if necessary, can be repaired by their midwife in the maternity suite.

Occasionally, however, a woman may suffer a more severe tear, affecting a greater extent of muscle and causing far more serious symptoms.

Severe tear damage

Third and fourth degree birth tears damage not only the perineum but also the muscles which control the woman's bowel. A fourth degree tear will additionally damage the internal lining of the anal canal. The impact of such severe damage can, if unrepaired, leave the woman with permanent bowel problems such as uncontrolled leakage or extreme urgency.

The incidence of severe birth tears seems to have been increasing and significant efforts are being made within maternity care to try to prevent the occurrence of and to improve the recognition of such injuries.

Care Bundles

Care Bundles, packages of guidelines for maternity workers, suggest the following approach to reducing severe birth tears:

  • Informing women about the possibility of birth tears and advising how to minimise the risk
  • Use of manual protection of the perineum during vaginal childbirth
  • Carrying out a medio-lateral episiotomy when considered necessary
  • Carrying out a thorough examination of the woman's perineum after the birth

Where a woman suffers long-term physical problems due to a failure by medical professionals to diagnose or repair a severe birth tear, it might be appropriate to make a claim for compensation. However, the occurrence of a severe birth tear in itself not necessarily negligent.

A failure to carry out a thorough examination leading to a failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis, may be considered poor quality care.

Speak to a solicitor

If you are struggling with the appalling and debilitating symptoms of a 3rd or 4th degree birth tear due to a diagnosis or repair failure, contact Glynns today to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

It might be appropriate to make a claim for compensation for your pain, suffering and financial losses such as a reduced income.

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

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