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Is a 4th Degree Tear Negligent?

Is a 4th Degree Tear Negligent?

A fourth degree tear is the most severe form of childbirth perineal injury. It causes damage to the perineum (the area between the vagina and anus) as well as to the anal sphincter muscles and the inner lining of the anal canal. If it is not skilfully repaired, the woman may be left with permanent incontinence issues.

However, it is not necessarily negligent to suffer a fourth degree tear during vaginal childbirth. A perineal tear is a risk of childbirth and, if you are carrying a heavy baby or require an instrumental delivery, you are more likely to suffer a severe tear. You are also more likely to experience a third or fourth degree tear if you are giving birth vaginally for the first time.

Instrumental deliveries and episiotomies

It is possible the medical professionals could be regarded as having been negligent if you require an instrumental delivery but they fail to ensure that an episiotomy is carried out.

There is some debate as to the significance of an episiotomy in contributing to severe perineal tears. Episiotomies are no longer carried out routinely as they may contribute to the chances of a woman suffering a perineal tear. However, if a woman needs an instrumental delivery, an episiotomy prior to the forceps or ventouse delivery is thought to reduce the likelihood of a severe tear occurring.

Diagnosis and management of a fourth degree tear

Medical practitioners are most likely to be regarded as negligent in relation to the management of a severe tear after it has occurred.

Diagnosis of a severe tear shortly after the birth, leading to a prompt and skilled repair is fundamental to the long-term well-being of the new mother.

Therefore, women who have just given birth vaginally should undergo a thorough examination to check for perineal damage.

If the woman has suffered a severe tear but it is misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, the relevant medical professional is likely to be regarded as responsible if the woman develops on-going continence problems.

Speak to a solicitor

If you are suffering the long-term, appalling impact of a fourth degree tear which has not been effectively repaired, it is likely to be affecting your ability to work, socialise and care for your children.

Contact Glynns Solicitors to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor about the possibility of making a compensation claim.

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