Megan sustained a severe third degree tear during a difficult delivery, but this was not identified after the birth. It was only when she began to suffer episodes of faecal incontinence that the problem was detected, by which point it was too late for a repair to succeed.
When Megan’s labour failed to progress, she was induced and given an epidural. An examination revealed that the baby was in distress, largely because he was in the wrong position. The decision was therefore taken to perform an episiotomy, as this would aid the delivery.
The midwife carried out an episiotomy and shortly afterwards, Megan’s baby was born. The episiotomy wound was sutured back together by the obstetric registrar, a procedure that took a total of three hours. At no point was a digital rectum examination performed.
The following day Megan was examined by a midwife who stated the episiotomy stitches appeared to be fine and she was fit to leave. Everything was going well until two months later when she noticed that wind appeared to be escaping from her vagina. This deteriorated and by the following month she was experiencing faecal leakage which could not be controlled.
At first the episodes of faecal incontinence would happen around once every three weeks. Gradually these uncontrolled bowel movements became more frequent, prompting Megan to seek advice from her GP. After an examination, the GP became concerned that the episiotomy repair had not healed properly.
Megan was referred onto a gynaecologist who explained that Megan had sustained a severe third degree tear during the birth of her son and this had not been diagnosed and repaired.
More than a year after giving birth, Megan underwent a repair of her anal sphincter and was fitted with a colostomy bag. The stoma was reversed after eight months, but has left unsightly scarring on her abdomen. Unfortunately due to the severity of the injury and the delay in repairing it, the operation was not entirely successful.
These problems have had a significant impact upon Megan’s life. She no longer feels able to socialise with her friends or stray too far from a toilet. She has, therefore, found it difficult to pursue the career she had aspired to.
With a digital rectal examination, a reasonably competent registrar would have diagnosed the injury and a repair would have been conducted in theatre. Because an examination was not carried out the injury was missed entirely, causing a series of appalling symptoms. Sadly these complications will continue in the long-term, as secondary repairs rarely have a 100% success rate.
We advised Megan that she had been the victim of negligence, as the tear should have been detected during a digital rectal examination. A failure to perform this examination and diagnose the tear amounted to a substandard level of care. We helped her obtain in excess of £150,000 compensation for the pain and suffering this caused.
(Details which might identify our client have been changed.)
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.