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Negligent Care of Instrumental Childbirth

Negligent Care of Instrumental Childbirth

An instrumental delivery of a baby is a risk factor in the new mother suffering a severe perineal tear. Substandard care of a new mother who has undergone an instrumental delivery may justify a claim for compensation.

What is a severe perineal tear?

A 'severe' perineal tear is an injury that extends from the vagina, across the perineum and causes damage to the muscles which control the opening of the bowel. Severe birth tears are classified according to the extent of the damage caused and, whereas a 3a tear will only damage the external anal sphincter, a 4th degree tear will damage both the external and internal muscles as well as the lining of the anal canal.

Damage to the anal sphincter muscles can leave a woman with symptoms of incontinence and urgency, restricting her capacity for work and limiting her ability to travel and care for her child. It frequently also causes considerable distress and loss of self-confidence.

Instrumental deliveries and perineal tears

An instrumental delivery is one where either forceps or a ventouse are used to help the baby to complete its passage through the vagina and out into the world.

An instrumental delivery is often used where labour has become protracted or there is concern for the health of the baby. It can put additional pressure on the skin and muscle around the vagina and is more likely to result in a severe perineal birth tear.

It is recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that the attending medical professional should consider carrying out an episiotomy prior to an instrumental delivery in order to reduce the risk of a tear.

A failure to carry out such a procedure may be regarded as negligent.

Examination after birth

When a woman has given birth with the assistance of an instrumental delivery, it is essential that she is examined carefully for any signs of perineal or anal damage. Given the fact that an instrumental delivery is a risk factor in severe perineal injury, a failure to carry out a thorough examination may be regarded as negligent.

A failure to identify a 3rd or 4th degree tear, leaving the new mother with debilitating long-term symptoms, may justify a claim for compensation.

Legal Advice

If you are struggling with the effects of an unrepaired severe birth tear following an instrumental delivery, you may wish to consider claiming compensation.

Contact Glynns Solicitors to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

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