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Birth Injury Case Studies

Perineal Tear Caused By Shoulder Dystocia Not Repaired

Due to complications during the delivery of her daughter, Anastasia sustained a third degree tear. Sadly this was not diagnosed and repaired, leaving her incontinent of faeces.

In the spring of 2009, Anastasia went into labour with her first child. The labour was progressing slowly as the baby's head was not descending. The obstetrician became concerned that the unborn baby had turned, meaning a forceps delivery was needed.

Anastasia was taken into theatre, an episiotomy performed and the forceps applied. After one tug with the forceps the baby's head was delivered, but the shoulders became stuck behind Anastasia's pubic bone, a complication known as shoulder dystocia. Pressure was then applied to her stomach to release the baby's shoulder. Eventually a healthy baby girl was born. Anastasia was then told she needed to be sutured as she had sustained a second degree tear.

Once she returned to the ward, Anastasia noted that she had no sensation in her pelvic floor. She was totally incontinent in hospital every day. Despite this, she was simply given some pelvic floor exercises to do and was discharged from hospital without being properly examined.

She remained incontinent at home and would often soil herself if she did not reach a toilet in time. She had to wear incontinence pads which made the skin around her perineum very sore.

Anastasia also found it difficult to achieve penetration while having sex with her husband. She sought medical attention for this and it was discovered that she had a fused labia. The labia were divided under local anaesthetic.

Despite repeatedly telling doctors about her incontinence problems during her treatment for the fused labia, it was not until several months later that she underwent a digital rectal examination.

The doctor conducting this examination noted a sphincter defect and referred Anastasia to a Colorectal Department, believing she had in fact sustained a third degree tear during birth, rather than a second degree tear.

After seeing a number of specialists, it was confirmed that Anastasia had indeed suffered a third degree tear. Later that year she underwent a sphincter repair but sadly this did little to relieve her symptoms.

Understandably this has had a terrible impact upon Anastasia's life. She remains incontinent of faeces and feels like she is never clean. This has had a knock-on effect on her relationship with her husband.

She tried to return to work after the birth of her daughter. However, her symptoms made it impossible to continue. All this has made her self-esteem very low and she has begun taking anti-depressants.

Every area of Anastasia's life has been adversely affected by the obstetrician's negligence. If the third degree tear had been diagnosed and repaired shortly after the birth, it is likely that Anastasia would have made a full recovery.

As it is, she will remain incontinent for the rest of her life, resulting in severe emotional and financial injuries. We helped Anastasia make a claim for the damages she wrongfully incurred. She was awarded in excess of £170,000 compensation.

(Details which might identify our client have been changed.)

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