We have supported numerous claims by new mothers for failure to diagnose or repair their severe perineal injury after the birth of their child. If you have suffered an obstetric anal sphincter injury (OASI) during childbirth, you may be entitled to make a claim.
Obstetric anal sphincter injuries
The occurrence of an injury to the perineum and/or anal sphincter during childbirth is not necessarily an act of medical negligence. But failure to recognise that an injury has occurred and failure to repair it appropriately or at all, possibly will be.
Obstetric anal sphincter injuries are otherwise referred to as third or fourth degree tears and they occur in around 5% of vaginal childbirth experiences.
A third degree tear will damage the anal sphincter muscles to a lesser or greater extent and a fourth degree tear will additionally damage the internal lining of the anal canal.
It is crucial that these injuries are carefully and accurately diagnosed at the time of the birth in order to ensure a prompt and skilled repair in an operating theatre.
Effects of anal sphincter injuries
Without diagnosis and repair, the woman can be left suffering with a range of unpleasant long-term symptoms including the following:
- Inability to control the passing of wind
- Inability to control the passing of faeces
- Urgency when needing to go to the toilet
- Leakage of wind and/or faeces via the vagina
- Discomfort during sexual intercourse
It is possible that the woman may need to undergo delayed surgery in order to repair the injury at a later date but this is not always successful.
For a woman anticipating a positive recovery from childbirth and planning the time she will spend with her new-born baby, an anal sphincter injury can have a devastating emotional impact as well as a physical impact.
Loss of confidence, depression and inability to work and socialise, are common effects of these debilitating injuries.
It is widely and strongly recommended that all women who have given birth vaginally should receive a thorough examination of the perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus) plus an internal examination of the anus after the birth of their child.
This should facilitate the diagnosis of any injury which might have occurred.
A failure to carry out such an examination or a failure to identify an injury may be considered to be medically negligent.
If the woman subsequently suffers on-going symptoms due to this failure, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.
Where a repair has been carried out but it was incompetently done or inadequate in its coverage, there may likewise be a case for a compensation claim.
Speak to a solicitor
Contact us to talk to a specialist solicitor experienced in supporting claims for missed third and fourth degree tears.
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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.