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Vaginal Childbirth Examination Negligence

Vaginal Childbirth Examination Negligence

The guidelines of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists regarding the management of severe perineal tears states that 'all women having a vaginal delivery are at risk of sustaining an OASI or isolated buttonhole tear. They should therefore be examined systematically, including a digital rectal examination, to assess the severity of damage.'

In an attempt to reduce the occurrence and impact of severe perineal tears, the RCOG, in combination with the Royal College of Midwives introduced an OASI Care Bundle in 2017 which specifically includes the necessity of a digital, rectal examination following vaginal childbirth.

The impact of poor examination

A failure to carry out a thorough examination of a new mother following vaginal childbirth may have a variety of consequences:

  • The new mother may have an undiagnosed 3rd or 4th degree tear, affecting the integrity of her anal sphincter which controls her bowel function
  • She may not receive a repair of her undiagnosed injury
  • She may suffer symptoms of faecal incontinence which may become permanent
  • She may need a stoma to provide bowel function
  • She may be restricted in what job she can do
  • She may be entitled to make a claim for compensation for medical negligence

Such is the possible severity of the consequences of failing to assess for anal sphincter damage, that the relevant medical professionals are likely to be regarded as having been negligent in their care of the new mother.

Causes of compensation claims

The majority of our clients who have pursued compensation claims for unrepaired childbirth anal injuries, have found themselves in that position because their medical professionals at the birth of their baby failed to diagnose the damage which had been caused by the vaginal delivery.

Even a partial diagnosis can leave the woman with severe on-going symptoms. When a 3rd degree tear is misdiagnosed as a 2nd degree tear, for example, the outcome is likely to be that any damage to the anal sphincter is not repaired. A 2nd degree tear only affects the vagina and perineum and can be repaired in the maternity ward by a midwife. There may be no further opportunity for the anal damage to be diagnosed. Many women believe that their symptoms of incontinence after childbirth are normal and it can, in some cases, be several years before they realise that they have, in fact, suffered an undiagnosed severe tear.

Speak to a solicitor

If you are suffering the long-term effects of an undiagnosed 3rd or 4th degree tear due to a failure by medical professionals to diagnose your injury, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Contact Glynns Solicitors today to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor with expertise in this field of negligence.

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