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Compensation for An Unrepaired 4th Degree Tear

Compensation for An Unrepaired 4th Degree Tear

A 4th degree tear is the most severe form of birth tear and a failure by medical professionals to repair it may result in permanent disabling symptoms. It may also justify a claim for compensation.

What are 4th degree tears?

Trauma to the vagina, perineum and anus during vaginal childbirth is classified according to the extent of damage caused. Tears which affect only the skin and possibly the muscle of the perineum are termed 1st and 2nd degree tears and can be repaired by a midwife in the maternity ward.

Some tears, however, extend further and additionally damage the muscles which control the bowel. These are called 3rd and 4th degree tears or Obstetric Anal Sphincter Injuries. (OASI). The anal sphincter is crucial to the prevention of wind and faecal incontinence and any damage to these muscles requires prompt and skilled attention and repair.

Third degree tears damage the external, and sometimes the internal, anal sphincter. Fourth degree tears also damage the lining of the anal canal.

Unless effectively repaired, such an injury can leave a woman unable to prevent the accidental passing of wind and faeces.

The physical, practical, psychological and financial impact of such an injury can be severe.

Assessing birth tears

If a 4th degree tear remains unrepaired, it is likely that it was not accurately diagnosed at the time of the birth. It may not have been diagnosed at all.

Women who have undergone vaginal childbirth require a thorough perineal and anal examination after the birth to check for any signs of severe anal sphincter damage. In particular, women who are at risk of a severe birth tear, require scrupulous assessment.

This would include women who have given birth vaginally for the first time as well as those who have needed an instrumental delivery or who have given birth to a large baby.

A failure to examine a woman, a failure to diagnose her injury accurately and a substandard repair might all be regarded as substandard care. If the woman suffers significant, on-going problems as a result, it might be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Legal advice

If you are struggling with the appalling problems associated with a 4th degree tear because medical professionals failed to diagnose or repair your injury effectively, contact Glynns today to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

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