If you are suffering from incontinence despite having your 3rd or 4th degree tear repaired, there may be some underlying issues. For instance, the wound may have broken down due to an infection or your repair may have been poorly performed.
If you are incontinent because of medical failings, you could be entitled to claim compensation. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We have a friendly team of solicitors who can help.
Persistent anal defects
A 3rd or 4th degree tear must be repaired shortly after the birth. This is called a primary repair. Unfortunately around 34-91% of women continue to suffer from a persistent anal sphincter defect after the repair. The reasons this might happen include:
- The repair was inadequately performed
- The repair was performed adequately and has failed – e.g. because of an infection
- The sphincter muscles were not repaired but instead it was an adjacent muscle that was inadvertently repaired
The main reason for failure is a subsequent infection. The infection will cause the wound to breakdown, meaning the repair is not entirely effective.
Can I claim compensation for my tear?
There are a number of factors that increase the risk of a 3rd degree tear such as first vaginal delivery, forceps delivery, prolonged second stage of labour and the baby being in the occipito-posterior position.
Despite these known risk factors, it is almost impossible to predict who will have a serious perineal tear. Additionally, the only intervention that can prevent a 3rd or 4th degree tear is a caesarean section.
If there is no clinical indication to resort to a caesarean section at the time, it is wholly appropriate to continue with a vaginal delivery. Medical practitioners cannot be blamed for failing to change the mode of delivery to an emergency C-section – unless the mother or baby are showing signs of distress.
Therefore compensation cannot be claimed just because the tear has happened.
Can I claim compensation for anal sphincter defect?
Nevertheless, there may be grounds for a claim if your repair was not successful due to medical error. Most notably, if the repair was inadequately performed, or if you were not given antibiotics to treat an infection (that consequently caused the repair to breakdown).
If you think you have been left with ongoing symptoms after a perineal tear because of medical failings, you need to talk to a solicitor. You could be entitled to sue those responsible. Contact us for more information.