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Negligent Perineal Tear Examinations

Negligent Perineal Tear Examinations

A competent examination of the perineum after a woman has given birth can make the difference between a swift recovery and a lifetime of disabling bowel problems.

Perineal examinations after childbirth

It is recommended by The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that all women who have given birth vaginally should undergo a thorough examination after the birth including a digital, rectal examination. This an examination where a gloved finger is inserted into the anus to check for any damage to the muscle or lining of the anal canal.

A thorough examination is considered necessary to try to reduce the number of new mothers suffering from long-term bowel problems.

The effects of severe perineal trauma

The majority of women who give birth vaginally suffer a tear around the vagina of some degree. However, approximately 5% to 10% suffer a severe injury which affects the anal sphincter muscles, thereby compromising the woman's control of her bowels.

A failure to carry out an examination will mean that any damage to the crucial anal muscles will pass unidentified and, therefore, the woman will not undergo a repair.

It will only be later, possibly after she has been discharged home, that the woman may start to realise that her bowel leakage or urgency is not just the normal and short-term effects of a vaginal birth but the symptoms of a serious injury which may remain for the rest of her life.

Many women in this situation find it extremely difficult to talk about the problems they then suffer due to embarrassment about their symptoms. Instead, they may struggle on for months or years before attempting to get medical help. By this time, it may be too late for much improvement in their condition to be achieved.

Their bowel urgency or incontinence may have become permanent.

Negligent perineal examinations

Medical professionals may be regarded as having provided substandard care relating to perineal examinations for the following reasons:

  • No examination took place at all
  • No anal examination took place so any anal damage remained undiagnosed
  • A misdiagnosis occurred where a severe tear was diagnosed as a lesser tear or a rectal buttonhole tear was completely missed.

If the new mother is left with severe and on-going symptoms as a result of the negligent approach to perineal examination, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Speak to a solicitor

If you are suffering the appalling and debilitating symptoms of a severe perineal tear due to the failure to diagnose your injury, contact Glynns today to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

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

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