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Third Degree Tear Classification Negligence

Third Degree Tear Classification Negligence

The assessment and accurate classification of a third degree tear after vaginal childbirth is essential to the new mother's outcome. A misdiagnosis of the woman's injury can cause a lifetime of bowel problems and prompt a claim for compensation.

Third degree tears

Third degree tears, along with fourth degree tears, are a severe form of birth injury which go beyond damaging the perineum to causing an injury to the anus and the muscles which control the bowel.

They affect around 5% of women who give birth vaginally and an accurate diagnosis should lead to a full and effective repair.

However, there are three types of third degree tear and a failure by medical professionals to differentiate between them can mean that the woman does not undergo a full repair. If a part of the injury remains unrepaired, the woman can continue to suffer symptoms of urgency and incontinence.

Third degree tear classification

The difference between the three levels of third degree tear is significant:

In addition to tearing the skin and muscle of the perineum:

  • A 3a tear causes damage to less than 50% of the external anal sphincter, the muscles which control the bowel
  • A 3b tear damages more than 50% of the external anal sphincter but does not impact on the internal sphincter
  • A 3c tear additionally damages the internal anal sphincter

The anal sphincter

The anal sphincter muscles work together to prevent and allow the passing of faeces and wind from the bowel. The internal sphincter provides involuntary control to prevent the accidental leakage of faeces. It is surrounded by the external sphincter which is consciously contracted and relaxed by an individual to control their bowel movements.

Damage to either sphincter can impact on the degree of control the person has over their bowel and the passing of wind and faeces.

Medical negligence

Women who have given birth vaginally require a thorough examination after the delivery of their baby to check for any signs of perineal and anal trauma. If the woman has suffered an injury, it must be carefully and accurately classified.

If medical professionals fail to do this, meaning that the woman does not receive an effective repair, they may be regarded as having provided a substandard level of care.

If the woman suffers significant, long-term bowel problems as a result, it might be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Speak to a specialist lawyer

If you are struggling with debilitating and distressing bowel problems because your birth injury was poorly-managed, contact Glynns today to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

We have supported numerous women who have suffered poor care of their perineal and anal injury, and one of our specialist team of solicitors will be very happy to discuss your situation with you.

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

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