If your perineal tear was not diagnosed and treated shortly after giving birth, you could be entitled to make a missed tear claim. For more information you need to talk to a solicitor without delay.
Perineal tears are a natural part of childbirth. Around 90% of women giving birth vaginally will sustain some type of tear, with the majority suffering the more minor injuries of a first or second degree tear. Approximately 9% of women will sustain a serious tear, which can be classified as either a third or fourth degree tear depending upon how much the anal sphincter is involved. A third degree tear extends to the external anal sphincter, whereas a fourth degree tear involves both the internal and external anal sphincters.
Recognising perineal tears
After the birth, a woman should be examined by either a midwife or a doctor. The aim of this is to ensure that any perineal injuries are identified and properly repaired. The practitioner performing the examination should be competent enough to diagnose the correct type of tear. To achieve this, it is vital that a digital rectal examination is carried out, as this is the only way to detect third and fourth degree tears. This will guarantee that a serious tear is not mistaken for a first or second degree tear.
Unfortunately perineal tears are not always detected. Either a tear is missed altogether, or a third or fourth degree tear is ‘underdiagnosed’, meaning it is wrongly classified as a first or second degree tear. Both scenarios will lead to serious problems for the patient concerned, as she will be left with a defect in her perineum and anal sphincter(s), resulting in symptoms such as:-
- Chronic pain
- Recurrent infections
- Faecal urgency
- Faecal leakage
- Inability to control wind (flatus)
- Faecal incontinence
- Psychological issues
Claiming for missed tears
If a third or fourth degree tear is missed, it is very likely that there will be a case of medical negligence. There is no reasonable excuse for a serious tear to remain undetected, as medical practitioners should perform an examination and have the expertise to make an accurate diagnosis. If there is a failure to carry out the examination, or a wrong diagnosis is made, the standard of care will be considered unacceptable. If this causes a patient to suffer the complications as listed above, there will be grounds for a medical negligence claim.
To claim compensation for a missed tear, please get in touch with us today.