If you have been left with a permanent colostomy after giving birth, have you been the victim of medical negligence?
Repairing tears after childbirth
Tearing during a vaginal delivery is an unfortunate but natural consequence of childbirth. The majority of women will sustain superficial injuries that may not even require any stitches.
However, around 9% of women will suffer a third or fourth degree tear. These are serious injuries that involve the anal sphincter, and they must be repaired by an experience surgeon shortly after the birth. The entire tear must be sutured together, thereby ensuring that a woman is not left with a defect in her perineum and her anal sphincter.
Although there will be some discomfort and swelling in the weeks afterwards, a third or fourth degree should heal with time. As long as it is properly repaired, a woman stands a good chance of making a full recovery and regaining normal function.
Colostomy after third degree tear
Sadly, a small number of women who suffer a third or fourth degree tear will experience long-term complications. If the anal sphincter has been torn, these complications often include faecal urgency, faecal leakage, and incontinence of faeces and flatus. This may impact upon a woman’s life so severely that she requires a colostomy bag.
Needing a colostomy after childbirth will of course be extremely upsetting; but does it amount to medical negligence?
Colostomy medical negligence
The answer to the above question will depend entirely upon the circumstances. The issue that must be raised is: was a reasonable standard of care provided?
With regards to perineal tears, a reasonable standard of care would mean that the correct type of injury was diagnosed shortly after the birth, and that the injury was properly repaired by a surgeon in theatre. If this care is provided but a woman still requires a colostomy, it will be very traumatic, but it remains that nothing could have been done to prevent it from happening.
On the other hand, if a reasonable standard of care is not provided and this leads to a woman having a permanent colostomy, there will be a case of medical negligence. For example, if the tear was not diagnosed shortly after the birth, or if a reasonable repair was not performed, the standard of care will be deemed unacceptable. If this contributes towards further injury – such as a colostomy – there will be grounds for a medical negligence claim.
Claiming compensation for medical negligence
If you would like to claim for a poorly managed third or fourth degree tear, please get in touch with us today.