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Obstetric Anal Sphincter Negligence

Obstetric Anal Sphincter Negligence

An obstetric anal sphincter injury (OASI) is otherwise known as a severe perineal tear during childbirth. Although many women suffer from a tear of some degree during vaginal childbirth, an anal sphincter injury is more rare and far more serious in terms of the damage done and its potential for causing long-term disability.

Obstetric anal sphincter damage

A poorly-managed obstetric anal sphincter injury can blight the life of the new mother. Struggling with bowel urgency and possible incontinence of both wind and faeces, women who have suffered this appalling injury, can find it increasingly difficult to work or to raise their child as they would wish. Many become socially isolated due to their fear of suffering a bowel accident.

Consequently the effective medical management of an obstetric anal sphincter injury is absolutely crucial in ensuring that a new mother recovers from any injury she may have suffered and can raise her child unhindered by her own physical problems.

An obstetric anal sphincter injury causes damage to the muscles which control the bowel. A third or fourth degree tear will injure either or both the external and internal anal sphincter muscles and possibly the internal lining of the anal canal as well.

Managing OASI

When such an injury occurs during childbirth, the mother requires both an accurate diagnosis of her injury and a competent and thorough repair of all damage caused.

If accurate diagnosis does not take place, an effective repair is unlikely and the new mother may go on to suffer a lifetime of bowel problems. If the injury is not identified at the time of the birth, many women suffer for years before seeking help due to their embarrassment about their symptoms.

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, a woman who has given birth vaginally should receive a thorough examination after the birth including a digital rectal examination to check for any evidence of anal damage.

Medical professionals should be particularly alert to the potential of an obstetric anal sphincter injury in those women who are most at risk. These include first-time mothers, women giving birth to a large baby and women who require an instrumental birth with forceps or ventouse.

Medical negligence

Where an examination does not take place or is inadequate, the relevant medical professionals may be regarded as only providing substandard care.

Where the new mother goes on to suffer severe long-term bowel problems because her injury has been neither diagnosed nor repaired, the medical practitioners may be considered to have been negligent and it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Legal advice

Contact Glynns Solicitors to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor if you are suffering severe bowel symptoms because medical professionals failed to effectively manage your obstetric injury.

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