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Understanding Perineal Injuries and Medical Negligence

Understanding Perineal Injuries and Medical Negligence

Perineal injuries are a risk of vaginal childbirth and are usually fairly small, enabling a prompt and full recovery by the new mother.

Occasionally, however, a perineal injury extends beyond the perineum and causes debilitating injury to the muscles which control the bowel, otherwise referred to as the anal sphincter.

Again, anal sphincter injuries during vaginal childbirth are not necessarily a sign of medical negligence. They are a particular risk for some categories of women giving birth vaginally such as those who undergo an instrumental birth or who are carrying a large baby.

Anal sphincter injuries

Birth tears which cause damage to the anal sphincter are sometimes referred to as OASI (obstetric anal sphincter injuries) or third and fourth degree tears.

OASI are classified according to the extent of the injury as follows:

  • A 3a tear damages less than 50% of the external sphincter
  • A 3b tear damages more than 50% of the external sphincter
  • A 3c tear damages both external and internal anal sphincter muscles
  • A 4th degree tear also damages the internal anal canal

Medical negligence and birth tears

Birth tears, if unrepaired, can cause permanent debilitating bowel problems, bringing financial, practical and psychological distress.

It is essential that they are accurately diagnosed at the time of the birth and competently repaired by an appropriate, skilled surgeon.

An accurate diagnosis requires a thorough examination following the birth of the baby, including digital rectal examination.A competent repair requires the use of appropriate techniques and materials appropriate to the different parts of the injury as recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Occasionally, however, the new mother suffers substandard care at some point of the process.

  • A failure to carry out a thorough examination may mean that only the damage to the perineum is observed and the anal damage remains undiagnosed
  • A lack of training or experience on the part of the medical practitioner may mean that a severe tear is misdiagnosed as a less severe tear and a part of the injury does not undergo repair
  • An inexperienced practitioner may only achieve a partial or poor-quality repair, leaving the new mother to suffer on-going symptoms.

Speak to a solicitor

If you or a loved one are struggling witht the appalling impact of an unrepaired anal sphincter injury, itmay be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Contact Glynns Solicitors, experts in medical negligence law, to talk to an experienced solicitor regarding the suitability of making a compensation claim.

0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.Free enquiry

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