If you develop a rectovaginal fistula after childbirth, have you been the innocent victim of medical error?
What is a rectovaginal fistula?
A rectovaginal fistula is when a channel develops between the rectum and the vagina, allowing waste products normally confined to the rectum to flow into the vagina. This kind of fistula can arise due to:
- Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease
- Radiation treatment for cancer
- Surgical complication
- Childbirth (called an obstetric rectovaginal fistula)
Why does an obstetric rectovaginal fistula happen?
An obstetric rectovaginal usually occur due to:
- An undiagnosed fourth degree tear or button hole injury of the rectum during delivery
- The inadvertent insertion of a suture between the vaginal epithelium and the anorectal epithelium
- Florid infection of the perineum giving rise to complete breakdown to the perineal wound and rectal epithelium
The timing of presentation will depend on many factors such as the size of the fistula, its location and the onset of bowel action.
Typically, a rectovaginal fistula that is caused by an undiagnosed fourth degree tear will present in the first few days after delivery. A rectovaginal fistula that occurs due to a misplaced suture tends to present seven to 10 days after repair, following necrosis of the suture tract.
Obstetric fistula after childbirth
If you have been unfortunate enough to develop an obstetric rectovaginal fistula, you may be wondering whether substandard medical care is to blame.
If the fistula occurred because of a misplaced suture or an infection, it will be necessary to investigate the circumstances. There may be a case of negligence if an unsuitable surgical technique was used, or if medical practitioners failed to prescribe antibiotics when there was a need to do so.
A solicitor who specialises in medical negligence claims will be able to suggest whether there has been a case of negligence.
There will almost definitely be grounds for a claim, however, if your fistula was caused by an undiagnosed fourth degree tear. Failing to diagnose and repair a fourth degree tear is unacceptable and will amount to medical negligence.
If you were left with a rectovaginal fistula because of an undiagnosed fourth degree tear, please get in touch with us today. We will be able to advise you of the options available to you. If we suggest that there is a case of negligence, we will pursue a claim on your behalf, obtaining the compensation you deserve.