If your third degree tear is failing to heal properly, it is possible that you have an infection. In this article we explore the signs of 3rd degree tear infection more closely.
Preventing infection after a third degree tear
During a vaginal delivery, it is possible that a woman will sustain a third degree tear. This is a laceration that runs from the vaginal opening, down through the perineum and into the external anal sphincter. The wound must be sutured together by a specialist surgeon in theatre. This should be done shortly after the delivery.
Before leaving hospital, a woman who has suffered a third degree tear should be given advice about preventing infections. The perineum is very close to the anus and therefore runs the risk of coming into contact with faeces and other germs. This means the stitches can easily become infected, something which will significantly slow a patient’s recovery.
In order to prevent an infection after a third degree tear, it is important to keep the perineum clean. This can be achieved by washing the area at least once a day, washing hands regularly and changing sanitary towels frequently. It also helps to drink plenty of fluids and to eat a healthy diet. In addition to this advice, a woman should be given a five day course of antibiotics.
Infection after third degree tear
Despite these precautionary measures, it is possible that a third degree tear will become infected. The signs of a 3rd degree tear infection include:-
- Stitches that continue to be very painful
- An offensive smell in the vaginal area
- Wound breakdown
- Unusual discharge in the perineal region
If these symptoms arise after a third degree tear, a woman must attend her GP at the earliest available opportunity. An infection can cause the stitches to breakdown, meaning the wound will need to be re-repaired. It is therefore vital the infection is properly treated and closely monitored, or unnecessary complications could ensue.
3rd Degree Tear Infection Not Diagnosed and Treated
Unfortunately there are occasions when a woman will seek help for an infected 3rd degree tear, but a medical practitioner will fail to diagnose and treat the infection. The patient may have reported problems to a midwife or a GP, but the clinician either failed to perform an examination, or failed to suspect an infection.
What should happen is that the patient’s wound is visually assessed. If there is any sign of infection, she should be told to see her GP immediately (if she is consulting a midwife). The GP must then administer antibiotics to help clear up the infection. A patient should be asked to return if there is no improvement in her symptoms after a couple of days.
If this course of action is not taken, the bacteria in the wound will continue to spread, causing the tissues to break down. In turn this will cause the stitches to disintegrate. Once the stitches have broken down the 3rd degree tear will not heal very well. Medical practitioners can attempt to put more stitches in, but it will not be as effective as the stitches originally inserted.
Indeed, a 3rd degree tear is best treated shortly after the birth. A delay will make the tissues more friable and a repair will be much harder. Even a delay of just 24 hours can adversely affect the outcome. Therefore attempting to put further stitches in days or weeks after the birth may result in a poor outcome – which could have been avoided, had the infection been diagnosed and treated quickly.
Compensation For A Missed Infection
If a medical practitioner failed to realise that your 3rd degree tear was infected, and so failed to provide antibiotics, you could be the victim of medical negligence. Failing to diagnose and treat a 3rd degree tear infection will amount to a breach of duty. This means that a reasonably competent medical professional would have identified the infection and provided effective treatment. A clinician who does not achieve this will have breached their duty of care towards a patient. If the patient suffers unnecessary injury because of this breach of duty, there will be a case of medical negligence.
A missed infection can in fact result in quite serious injuries. As mentioned above, the stitches will break down and a second repair may not be as effective. Consequently the patient may be left with a defect in her perineum and sphincter muscles. This can cause ongoing pain and a dragging/aching sensation, particularly after walking or sitting for long periods of time. There can also be discomfort during sexual intercourse.
Additionally there can be problems with regards to controlling wind and faeces. This is because there will be a weakened anal sphincter, which is the muscle that controls the passing of flatus and faeces. When this muscle does not work properly, the individual may find that she has just seconds to get to a toilet, or otherwise risks an episode of incontinence. Incontinence of wind is another potential issue, and in fact this is often harder to prevent than faecal incontinence.
If you have suffered any of the injuries described in this article due to a missed 3rd degree tear infection, you need to speak to a solicitor about making a claim. You could be entitled to compensation for the life-changing symptoms you have been left.
Missed third degree tear
There are times when a woman seeks medical help for an infection after childbirth, only to discover that she actually has a third degree tear. This can only mean that the injury was missed by the doctors and midwives attending the birth. A missed third degree tear will amount to medical negligence, as there is no acceptable reason why such an injury should go unnoticed.
If you have been told you have a third degree tear and the injury was not diagnosed at the time of the birth, get in touch with us today. You could be entitled to claim compensation for the damage you have suffered.