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Failing to Examine Women at Risk of a Severe Birth Tear

Failing to Examine Women at Risk of a Severe Birth Tear

It is crucial that women who present risk factors for a severe birth tear are given the most scrupulous care during the birth of their child. A failure to provide an acceptable level of care may result in a claim for compensation.

Examining for anal sphincter injuries in childbirth

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends that all women who have given birth through the vagina undergo a thorough perineal examination following the birth.

This is particularly important when the woman in question presents risk factors for an obstetric anal sphincter injury. Such an examination should include a digital rectal examination to assess the condition of the anal sphincter muscles. A failure to do so may leave the new mother with permanent bowel problems and may justify a claim for compensation.

Risk factors for a severe perineal tear

Severe birth tears are believed to occur to between 5 and 10% of women in England. A severe birth tear, a 3rd or 4th degree tear, is one which includes damage to the anal muscles which control bowel function.

Risk factors which increase the likelihood that a woman will suffer a severe perineal tear during vaginal childbirth include the following:

  • Women who are giving birth through the vagina for the first time are more likely to suffer a severe tear than those who have previously done so
  • Women who have required an instrumental delivery (with either forceps or ventouse) are more susceptible to suffering a severe tear
  • Women who are giving birth to a large baby or whose baby has suffered shoulder dystocia during birth are more likely to suffer a severe tear
  • Women who are of Asian ethnicity are more susceptible to a severe birth tear

The impact of negligent care

Long-term recovery from an anal tear during childbirth depends upon prompt and competent medical care. An accurate diagnosis should trigger a surgical repair by an experienced surgeon. A misdiagnosis or a complete failure to diagnose will mean that no repair takes place. In these circumstances, the new mother may find that she suffers appalling problems with bowel incontinence for the rest of her life.

The physical, practical , emotional and financial impact can be significant.

Seek legal support

If you or a loved one are struggling with the impact of a failure to diagnose or repair a severe perineal tear, contact Glynns Solicitors.

We have extensive experience of birth tear compensation claims and one of our specialist solicitors will be very happy to discuss your situation with you.

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

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