If you have sustained a perineal tear during childbirth, have you been the victim of medical negligence? In this article we explore negligent tears in more detail, helping you understand whether you could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation.
Perineal tears during birth
When giving birth by way of vaginal delivery, it is perfectly natural to tear. This is because although the perineum will stretch during labour, it cannot always stretch far enough – particularly if an assisted delivery is required. The perineum may therefore rip as the baby is delivered.
The severity of the tear can vary enormously. Some women will only suffer superficial damage. This is known as a first degree tear. For others, the tear will extend down through the perineum and into the anal sphincter(s). These are serious tears and are classified as third degree tears (where the tear extends to the external anal sphincter) and fourth degree tears (where the tear extends to the internal and external anal sphincters).
Do perineal tears amount to medical negligence?
If a woman does sustain a perineal tear during childbirth, she will not be considered the victim of medical negligence. This is because tears are a natural part of birth and cannot normally be prevented. The only exception to this is if medical incompetence directly contributes towards the tear occurring. This might include, for example, a poorly performed episiotomy.
Ordinarily, however, it is not possible to pursue a medical negligence claim just because a perineal tear has occurred.
Missed perineal tears
Nevertheless, there will be grounds for a compensation claim if a third or fourth degree tear is not diagnosed and treated shortly after the birth.
Perineal tears should be detected soon after the delivery during a routine examination. This can be carried out by a midwife or a doctor, and must include a digital rectal examination to ensure anal sphincter injuries are identified.
Sometimes medical practitioners fail to perform this examination. Other times an examination is completed but a severe tear somehow goes unnoticed. Both situations will amount to a substandard level of medical care. If this mistake causes a patient unnecessary pain and suffering, there will be a case of medical negligence.
Claiming compensation for a birth tear
If your third or fourth degree tear was initially missed by medical practitioners, causing you to experience wrongful complications, you could be entitled to financial redress. Contact us today to find out more.
Free, No Obligation Enquiry