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Why make a Claim for a 3rd Degree Tear?

Why make a Claim for a 3rd Degree Tear?

A 3rd degree tear is a natural, if fairly rare, outcome of vaginal childbirth. So why might you make a claim for having received one?

What is a 3rd degree tear?

A 3rd degree tear is a severe injury that can occur during vaginal childbirth. It is not necessarily anyone's fault, although some circumstances, such as a forceps or ventouse delivery, or being given an episiotomy may make it more likely.

A 3rd degree tear affects the skin and muscle of the area between the vagina and the anus as well as the external and possibly internal anal sphincter.

The anal sphincter is the muscle controlling the anus and damage to it can result in wind and faecal incontinence.

What checks should happen after childbirth?

All women having a vaginal birth should undergo a thorough examination immediately after the birth, including a digital rectal examination of the anus. This will allow the diagnosis of a 3rd degree tear if one has occurred and, indeed, a 4th degree tear of the anal lining which is even more rare and more serious.

If a 3rd or 4th degree tear is diagnosed, the mother should be taken promptly to an operating theatre and undergo a full and competent repair by an experienced surgeon.

This will provide the best chance of a full recovery and no on-going symptoms.

Why could you claim for a 3rd degree tear?

However, these guidelines are not always followed and some women experience appalling side-effects for months or even years before their tear is accurately diagnosed and a repair attempted. Such a delay is likely to produce a less favourable outcome as the body's tissue is less responsive to repair after a delay.

  • If a thorough examination is not carried out after the birth, a tear may be completely missed or misdiagnosed as a 1st or 2nd degree tear, which is far less serious and may not even require stitches. In this case, the midwife, doctor or possibly even the obstetrician have not provided an appropriate level of care and the patient could make a claim for compensation.
  • If a 3rd degree tear is not diagnosed shortly after the birth and the mother attends her midwife or GP at a later date suffering from symptoms of urgency or incontinence (wind or faeces), the medical practitioner would be at fault if they do not investigate those symptoms. This means not only that the mother will continue to suffer symptoms but that a repair will be further delayed.
  • If a 3rd degree tear is diagnosed but poorly repaired, the mother may start to experience symptoms and require a second repair.

Legal Advice

If you have suffered from the long-term effects of a 3rd or 4th degree tear which was not handled appropriately by your medical practitioners, you may be entitled to compensation for your experience.

You will need to contact a specialist medical negligence solicitor who will be able to assess your circumstances and help you to make a claim for compensation if that seems an appropriate course of action.

Glynns Solicitors have considerable experience of supporting claims for perineal tears which have not been diagnosed or treated accurately.

Contact us to discuss your case.

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