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Substandard Assessment of Women 'At Risk' of Perineal Trauma

Substandard Assessment of Women 'At Risk' of Perineal Trauma

Perineal tears, otherwise described as birth tears, are not uncommon. Many women suffer a tear of some degree during vaginal childbirth. However, a few women are at risk of severe, anal sphincter, injuries and it is important that every care is taken to assess any damage.

Women at risk of severe perineal trauma

Severe birth tears, also called 3rd or 4th degree tears, happen to about 5% of women, with the following groups being particularly susceptible to them:

  • Women giving birth through the vagina for the first time (as opposed to a caesarean section)
  • Women giving birth to a larger than average baby
  • Women of Asian ethnicity
  • Women who have undergone an instrumental birth with either forceps or ventouse
  • Where the baby experiences shoulder dystocia during the birth, getting stuck behind the pubic bone during birth

Assessing for perineal trauma

If a severe birth tear is accurately diagnosed at the time of the baby's birth and competently repaired, there is a good chance that the new mother will recover from any problems with bowel urgency and leakage. However, a failure to identify the injury in the first place, will mean that no repair is undertaken and the woman's chances of recovery are reduced.

It is important, therefore, that all new mothers are very thoroughly assessed. And it is especially important that women who come into the above categories receive particular attention. Their risk of suffering a severe tear is greater than normal and a failure to check for any injury might be regarded as negligent care.

The guidelines issued by The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are clear as to the need for women to undergo thorough examination for perineal trauma after vaginal birth, including the need for a digital, rectal examination of the anus to ensure that severe anal trauma is accurately diagnosed. A failure to examine 'at-risk' women is particularly indefensible.

An unrepaired severe birth tear can cause a significant and distressing impact on a new mother's life and that of her baby. An inability to prevent the passing of wind and faeces can limit a woman's ability to work, cause considerable loss of confidence and impact on her willingness to leave her home.

Claiming compensation for on-going symptoms

If a woman suffers long-term debilitating symptoms due to a failure to assess her for perineal trauma after the birth of her baby, it may be possible to make a claim for compensation.

A successful compensation claim will provide recompense for the pain, suffering and financial consequences of the negligence.

Get legal advice

If your on-going bowel problems are causing you significant financial difficulties following the birth of your baby, you may wish to seek legal advice if you believe you have been the victim of medical negligence.

Here at Glynns, we have supported numerous women in making highly-successful compensation claims. Contact us today to discuss your situation, in confidence and free of charge, with an experienced 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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