The rates of severe perineal tears during vaginal childbirth appear to be increasing. There has been some suggestion that this may partly be due to a lack of understanding of the impact of these injuries, as well as a lack of training in accurate diagnosis.
Addressing the issue
An education day due to take place this week aims to address these issues.
Organised by MASIC (mothers with anal sphincter injuries in childbirth) in conjunction with the University of East Anglia, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Trust and the ACGBPI, the one day event will be addressing issues around prevention, detection and management of these appalling injuries.
Aimed at a wide range of professionals with interest or involvement in the care of pregnant women and their aftercare, it is to be hoped that the event will succeed in raising awareness of these injuries and improve the detection rates.
Obstetric anal sphincter injuries (OASI)
Severe obstetric anal sphincter injuries are also described as 3rd and 4th degree tears. More severe than 1st and 2nd degree tears, these distressing injuries can affect the woman’s ability to control her bowels.
When such an injury is detected, diagnosed accurately and repaired competently at the time of the birth, most women recover their bowel function and are symptom-free within 12 months.
Where diagnosis and treatment do not occur, however, the woman can develop appalling symptoms of wind and faecal incontinence which can lead to restrictions in employment, inability to leave the home due to fear of incontinence, and severe psychological distress. Sometimes women lose contact with their social group due to their reluctance to leave the home and become socially isolated.
Close personal relationships are frequently put under considerable pressure.
Diagnosis of perineal tears
The scenario is one which nobody would wish to experience and one which could be avoided if diagnosis rates of these dreadful injuries could be improved.
Classification of different types of perineal tear is provided by The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
They further recommend that every woman undergoing a vaginal birth should have a thorough examination after the birth of the baby, including a digital, rectal examination in order to try to ensure that any injury to the anal sphincter and internal anal canal is not missed.
A failure to diagnose these injuries, leading to a failure to repair them, can be regarded as a substandard level of care. Where the woman suffers with long-term debilitating symptoms, it can also be the cause of a significant compensation claim.
Contact us today
We are currently supporting a number of women who are suffering long-term injury due to a failure to diagnose their 3rd or 4th degree tear. If you think this may have happened to you, ring us today to talk to one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors.
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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.