If you have been diagnosed with a fourth degree tear in the weeks or months following childbirth, you could be entitled to claim compensation for a delay in diagnosis. Contact a solicitor today to find out more.
Diagnosing a fourth degree tear
A fourth degree tear is a serious injury sustained by a woman during a vaginal delivery. The tear extends from the vaginal wall and perineum, down into the anal canal and rectum. It involves both the internal and external anal sphincters.
A fourth degree tear should be diagnosed shortly after the birth. A midwife or doctor should perform a routine examination, during which a finger is inserted into the vagina and a thumb is inserted into the anus. The finger and thumb are then rubbed together in a pin-rolling motion, enabling the medical professional to detect any defects in the anal sphincters. If an injury is present, a fourth degree tear can be confirmed.
Both midwives and doctors should have the knowledge and expertise to diagnose a fourth degree tear during an examination. Once diagnosed a specialist surgeon should be asked to carry out a repair in theatre.
Failing to diagnose a fourth degree tear
However, there are occasions when a woman will sustain a fourth degree tear during childbirth, yet this goes unnoticed by medical professionals. She therefore leaves hospital completely unaware that she has a severe perineal injury.
This situation usually arises for one of two reasons. Either there is a failure to carry out an examination after the birth, meaning a woman leaves hospital without having been properly assessed for perineal trauma. Or an examination is performed, but the medical professional in question fails to diagnose the injury, believing there to be a more minor tear (or no tear whatsoever).
Consequences of a missed fourth degree tear
If a fourth degree tear does go undiagnosed and untreated, complications will develop. This is because both the anal sphincters will be damaged and function will be lost. A woman will go on to experience difficulties controlling the passing of flatus (wind) and faeces, and there may even be episodes of faecal incontinence.
This will of course be extremely upsetting and, more often than not, will lead to emotional problems. Many women find their symptoms embarrassing and begin to worry about leaving the house, saying they do not want to be far from a toilet. This can result in physiological injuries such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Claiming compensation for a missed fourth degree tear
If you have experienced the problems described above because medical professionals failed to diagnose your fourth degree tear in a timely fashion, you will be entitled to claim compensation. Contact us today to find out more.
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