Two weeks after giving birth, Jada began to pass faeces through her vagina. Despite seeking medical help, it took doctors over a year to realise she had sustained a fourth degree tear during the delivery.
When Jada went into labour with her first child, she was attended by two midwives, one of which was a student. After a short second stage of labour, a healthy baby was born without forceps or an episiotomy. Jada was quickly examined by the midwives who said she had sustained a minor tear which required a few stitches. A rectal examination was not carried out before or after the repair.
Two weeks after being discharged from hospital, Jada noticed that she was passing faeces through her vagina. She also became incontinent of faeces, finding it impossible to hold the motion before reaching a toilet. She mentioned these problems to her GP at her six week check-up. After a rectal examination, Jada was told her anal tone was normal and the tear had healed satisfactorily.
Jada was also told the symptoms would settle down with time, and that pelvic floor exercises would help. Unfortunately the GP’s prognosis was not accurate. For the following 10 months Jada lived with incontinence on a daily basis and could not stray far from a toilet for fear of soiling herself. Eventually she could not cope any longer. She returned once again to her GP, who referred her to a gynaecologist.
During the appointment with the gynaecologist, Jada was told she had a deficient perineal body and a deficient sphincter. A second opinion was needed from a colorectal surgeon, so Jada was referred on once again. The colorectal specialist agreed that she had a sphincter defect which had been caused by the delivery of her first child. This was called a fourth degree tear and should have been diagnosed and repaired shortly after the birth.
Jada subsequently underwent surgery to repair her sphincter. Although this has improved her situation slightly, she still suffers episodes of incontinence. Her entire life revolves around whether or not she has been able to empty her bowels, something which is of course very distressing. She is now unable to work. In addition, it has severely restricted her social life and her ability to take her children swimming or exercise in public.
These devastating complications could have been avoided had the midwives carried out a rectal examination after the delivery. This would have alerted them to the sphincter damage and a fourth degree tear would have been diagnosed. A failure to do so amounted to a substandard level of medical care.
We helped Jada make a claim for her missed fourth degree tear. She was awarded in excess of £250,000 in compensation.
(Details which might identify our client have been changed.)
If you, or your family member, has suffered a birth injury tear, please call us now for free, no obligation advice on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile click to call 01275 334030) or complete our Free Online Enquiry.