If your fourth degree tear was inadequately repaired, causing you to develop faecal incontinence, you need to talk to a solicitor about the options available to you.
A substandard repair may amount to medical negligence, meaning you will be entitled to claim compensation for the damages incurred.
Repairing a fourth degree tear
A fourth degree tear is a severe perineal injury that may be sustained by women giving birth vaginally. It involves the disruption of the anal sphincter muscles, external anal sphincter, internal anal sphincter and anal epithelium.
A fourth degree tear must be repaired in theatre, rather than the delivery suite. The repair must be performed by someone with adequate experience to repair such a tear. A midwife is not qualified to repair a fourth degree tear and it must be a doctor with expertise in perineal trauma repair.
The whole tear should be repaired, including the anal mucosa, the internal anal sphincter and the external anal sphincter. The injury must therefore be identified in its entirety or part of the tear will be missed.
Inadequate repair of a fourth degree tear
Unfortunately, however, there are times when a fourth degree tear is correctly diagnosed but the full length of the tear is not repaired. Most commonly, there will be a failure to identify and repair the internal sphincter, even though this should be quite obvious in a fourth degree tear.
If this happens, the patient will be discharged from hospital having undergone a repair for a fourth degree tear. Nevertheless, there will still be a defect in the anal sphincter. This will compromise sphincter function, particularly with regards to low resting and squeeze pressures.
Consequently the individual in question will go on to develop faecal urgency, being unable to defer defecation when the need to pass a stool arises. If the person does not reach a toilet in time, it may lead to an episode of faecal incontinence. There may also be faecal leakage and soiling.
Poor repair of a fourth degree tear
A persistent defect in the anal sphincter can lead to faecal incontinence. Because of this it is vital to diagnose and treat the full extent of a fourth degree tear. Otherwise the patient will face complications such as faecal urgency and incontinence.
If the clinician who sutured your tear failed to diagnose the full extent of the tear and thus failed to carry out an adequate repair, you could be considered the victim of medical negligence. This means you would be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. Contact us for more information.