Childbirth can inflict significant damage on the mother. With prompt and skilled attention, this damage can be recovered, but an incompetent response can lead to a lifetime of distress.
Repairing perineal tears
The majority of women are likely to require stitching to the perineum after vaginal childbirth. In order to facilitate a full recovery, it is imperative that:
- Any damage to the perineum and anus has been accurately diagnosed so that all damage is repaired
- Appropriate methods and materials are chosen to ensure a good repair
- The practitioner who undertakes the repair is both skilled and experienced in that field to ensure the best quality repair is achieved
Failing to repair a perineal tear
A failure to fully and effectively repair a perineal tear after the birth of a child could leave the new mother with long-term distressing and embarrassing symptoms such as the following:
- Inability to control wind
- Inability to prevent the passing of faeces (bowel incontinence)
- Pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Infections of the perineum
- Urgency and leakage when needing the toilet
Effects of a failure to repair a perineal tear
It is also possible in these circumstances that the woman may require additional surgery, sometimes necessitating the use of a colostomy bag whilst her bowel is repaired. Unfortunately, delayed surgery is not always possible nor as successful as it would have been had it been done effectively at the time of the birth.
When these symptoms are severe, it can have a significant impact on the woman’s life, making it hard to travel any extended distance or to work, especially in an environment which requires regular interaction with other people.
Women who have suffered with these symptoms have frequently found that their social lives are dramatically reduced and their ability to nurture their child by supporting them in activities outside the house is restricted.
A woman who suffers the long-term effects of a poorly repaired perineal tear may find that her treating medical practitioner was not suitably qualified or sufficiently experienced or appropriately supervised in order to undertake the task. This may lead to an incompetent repair.
It may be that the medical professional is not familiar with the recommended methods for repairing different types of perineal and anal damage as caused by a birth injury as identified in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ guidelines.
An alternative explanation is that the perineal tear was never diagnosed accurately at the time of the birth and that the repair has only been partial rather than addressing the full extent of the damage.
The most likely outcome of this is that external damage to the perineum and anus may be repaired but internal damage to the anal sphincter and anal canal may pass un-noticed.
Sadly, it is precisely this type of damage which is most likely to cause the worst long-term symptoms.
Speak to a solicitor
If you are suffering with the dreadful, long-term effects of a severe perineal tear that has received a substandard level of care, you may wish to make a claim for compensation.
Do not hesitate to contact us for advice.
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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.