If your third or fourth degree tear is repaired shortly after the delivery, you stand a good chance of making a full recovery. However, if there is a delay in treatment, you may suffer ongoing problems.
A primary repair is when an injury is repaired shortly after it has occurred. In terms of perineal birth injuries, a primary repair would be a tear that is repaired soon after the birth – certainly before a woman is discharged from a healthcare environment.
Ordinarily, a tear will be diagnosed shortly after the delivery during a routine examination. If a third or fourth degree tear is detected, a woman will be taken to theatre for a repair, it not immediately then within a matter of hours.
However, there are times when a tear goes unnoticed. This may happen either because an examination is not performed, or because an examination is performed but the tear is missed. Both scenarios will amount to medical negligence.
If a tear is not initially diagnosed, a woman will be discharged from hospital with an unrepaired tear. If an anal sphincter injury is present, this will inevitably lead to problems such as faecal urgency, faecal leakage, and incontinence of flatus and faeces.
In the cases we deal with, these symptoms will prompt a woman to seek advice from medical practitioners. Further tests will then reveal a missed third or fourth degree tear. If appropriate a woman may then choose to undergo a surgical repair. This is known as a secondary repair.
Therefore a secondary repair is when there is a delay between the injury occurring and the repair being carried out.
Success of primary and secondary repairs
Primary repairs have a high success rate and most women will go on to regain normal function. This has been supported by studies, including one conducted by obstetric specialists Sultan and Thakar. Of the cases they analysed, 39% reported incontinence of flatus (wind) after a primary repair, and just 14% reported incontinence of faeces (with or without flatus).
Sadly the success rate for secondary repairs is not as good. This is because secondary repairs are just not as effective as primary repairs. Many women will go on to suffer long-term complications such as pain during sex, the inability to control the passing of wind and faeces, and psychological disorders.
Claiming compensation for a missed tear
If you have undergone a secondary repair because medical practitioners initially failed to spot your third or fourth degree tear, you could be entitled to claim compensation. Contact us today to find out more.
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