An examination, including a rectal examination, is the only way to diagnose a third degree tear. If a diagnosis is not made because medical practitioners failed to carry out a thorough examination, there will be grounds for a medical negligence claim.
Examination after birth
After a woman has given birth by way of vaginal delivery, she must be properly examined by a midwife or doctor. According to NICE guidelines on intrapartum care 2007, should begin with:
- An explanation provided by a medical practitioner to the patient about the need for an examination and what it involves
- The provision of local or regional anaesthetic, and confirmation by the woman that the pain relief is effective
- Visual assessment of the extent of perineal trauma.
After a visual assessment of the genitalia, the labia should be parted and a vaginal examination performed. This should establish the full extent of the vaginal tear.
A digital rectal examination should then be performed to exclude injury to the anorectal mucosa and anal sphincter. The index finger must be inserted into the anal canal and the thumb into the vagina, after which the anal sphincter should be palpated by performing a pin-rolling motion with the thumb and finger. This should enable any injury to the anal sphincter to be identified.
Failure to examine patient
Every woman who has had a vaginal birth should have a rectal examination prior to any suturing, as this is the only way to ensure anal sphincter tears and button hole tears are not missed. If a repair is conducted without a rectal examination being performed first, it is possible that a third or fourth degree tear will go undiagnosed.
Unfortunately this does happen, as some medical practitioners overlook the need to carry out a thorough examination after the birth. If this mistake means that a third or fourth degree tear is missed, there will be grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim.
Can I claim for a tear?
If your third or fourth degree tear was not initially diagnosed by healthcare professionals, it is very likely that you will be in a position to pursue a claim for compensation. To find out, you need to speak to a solicitor who specialises in birth injury claims.
To speak to a solicitor, please get not hesitate to get in touch with us today. We are experts in missed third/fourth degree tears and can help you claim the compensation you deserve.