Recent research by the charity, Birthrights, has shown that 15% of NHS Trusts do not allow an expectant mother to choose to give birth through a caesarean section. What are the implications of this if the woman subsequently suffers a severe perineal tear during the vaginal birth?
Severe perineal tears
3rd and 4th degree perineal tears during vaginal childbirth, also described as Obstetric Anal Sphincter Injuries, can cause life-changing and life-long symptoms. Especially where the tear is neither accurately diagnosed nor competently repaired, the woman who has sustained the injury can develop the following symptoms:
- Inability to control the passing of wind
- Inability to prevent the passing of faeces
- Extreme urgency when needing the toilet
- Discomfort during sex
- Perineal discomfort and infections
Severe perineal tears are often the cause of claims for compensation due to misdiagnosis. If the damage to the anal sphincter, caused by these injuries, is not noticed, the likely success of delayed surgery is diminished.
The impact on the woman’s life can then be dramatic, restricting the types of employment she can pursue and impacting on her ability to travel, socialise and maintain close relationships as well as affecting the way in which she can then bring up her child. The psychological and financial impact can also be significant.
Elective Caesarean Section
The NICE guidelines state that, ‘if after discussion and offer of support…a vaginal birth is still not an acceptable option, offer a planned CS.’
However, 15% of NHS Trusts do not seem to conform to these guidelines, refusing to allow women the choice of a caesarean section where, for whatever reason, they would prefer not to undergo a vaginal birth.
Clearly, perineal injury will not occur during a caesarean section although, of course, there are other associated risks with that procedure.
Therefore, if a woman expresses a clear wish to have her baby by caesarean section which is refused and she then suffers a severe tear during the vaginal birth of her baby, it may be considered that her medical practitioners are at fault.
Where a woman suffers long-term, significant symptoms and the associated impact due to a third or fourth degree tear, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.
If you are struggling with such a situation, contact us to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor. We have supported numerous women who have suffered the long-term impact of poorly treated perineal injury and would be happy to advise you.
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If you, or your family member, has suffered a birth injury tear, please call us now for free, no obligation advice on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile click to call 01275 334030) or complete our Free Online Enquiry.