After the birth of her first child Jess began to suffer regular episodes of faecal incontinence. Her problems were repeatedly ignored until she fell pregnant once again and a missed third degree tear was diagnosed.
When Jess gave birth to her first child, it was a prolonged labour and eventually the midwife decided to perform an episiotomy, whereby the perineum is cut to make room for the baby. Jess had previously stated that she did not want to be cut, but she assumed the midwife knew best.
After the delivery the midwife stitched the episiotomy back together and told Jess to wash the wound with warm water. She did not offer any other advice, nor did she say what to look out for in case the wound tore.
A month later, Jess had an episode of faecal incontinence. She mentioned this to her GP during a routine check-up who, although she didn’t examine Jess, said there was nothing to worry about. The GP advised her to do more pelvic exercises to help the wound heal and assured Jess the problem would soon disappear.
She continued to suffer one or two incidents of incontinence a month. Even so, she tried to carry on as usual and returned to work. However, when she became pregnant again, her incontinence problems deteriorated. Eventually it became too difficult to work and she took early maternity leave.
Five months into her second pregnancy Jess had a routine appointment with the midwife. She told the midwife about her problems who immediately became very concerned. An appointment was booked with a consultant who confirmed that the episiotomy stitches had come undone, meaning the wound had not healed.
The consultant also said the midwife who had performed the episiotomy had cut too far down, damaging a section of Jess’s anal passage. This represented a third degree tear that had not, until that point, been diagnosed or treated. Jess was told she only had 60% movement in her bowels and would need reconstructive surgery to her anal passage to ensure further movement was not lost.
She has since had this treatment which has slightly improved the situation. Nevertheless, Jess still suffers from faecal incontinence and has effectively become a prisoner in her own home, feeling unable to take her children out on trips.
These complications have completely turned Jess’s life upside down, causing severe physical, emotional and financial damage. All this could have been prevented had the episiotomy been properly performed, and had the third degree tear been diagnosed and repaired shortly after the delivery. Jess made a claim for the terrible impact medical negligence has had on her life and she was awarded in excess of £150,000 in compensation.
(Details which might identify our client have been changed.)
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