A third degree tear is an uncommon type of perineal injury. But just how often do third degree tears happen, and can anything be done to prevent them?
How often do third degree tears happen?
In 2008, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) published a report suggesting that 9% of women in the UK suffer a third or fourth degree tear while giving birth vaginally.
In 2011, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust produced an information leaflet for patients, in which it was reported that 2% of women in the UK will sustain a third or fourth degree tear during birth.
Therefore the data quoted in medical literature does vary somewhat. However, it is safe to say that third degree tears only happen to a small percentage of women in the UK.
Will I have a third degree tear?
A third degree tear can affect any woman giving birth by way of vaginal delivery. It is not possible to predict when a third degree tear will occur, although there are factors that increase the risk. These include:
- First vaginal delivery
- Large baby
- Baby’s shoulder gets stuck behind the pubic bone (shoulder dystocia)
- Assisted delivery with forceps or a ventouse
- The labour has been induced
Are doctors to blame for a 3rd degree tear?
Even if a patient does have these risk factors, there is little that can be done to prevent a third degree tear from happening.
However, it is possible that medical professionals act in such a way as to increase the chance of a third degree tear arising. This might include:
- Allowing a prolonged second stage of labour
- Performing a midline episiotomy
- Performing a blunt episiotomy
- Not advising a patient with a very large baby that she may be induced early/have a C-section
Medical practitioners will also be held liable if a third degree tear remains undetected. It is their responsibility to examine a patient after the birth to check for any perineal injuries. A failure to do this whatsoever/a failure to do this competently will amount to a substandard level of care.
Claiming for a 3rd degree tear
If your third degree tear went undiagnosed and unrepaired, you will be able to claim compensation for the damage this has caused you. To find out more about make a medical negligence compensation claim, please get in touch with us today. We specialise in birth injury claims and will be able to advise you further.