If you have suffered a third degree tear during the birth of your child, what options are available to you? Can you make a claim for medical negligence? And can you obtain compensation for the damage incurred?
Can I sue for a third degree tear?
A third degree tear is a perineal injury sustained during a vaginal delivery. It will not happen to every woman giving birth, but is more likely to affect those who:-
- Need an assisted delivery;
- Have not given birth vaginally before;
- Have a birth complicated by shoulder dystocia;
- Have a larger than average baby.
Despite the known risk factors, the incidence of a third degree tear will not in itself be negligent. A third degree tear cannot normally be predicted or prevented, so medical practitioners cannot be blamed when such an injury does arise.
However, there may be some exceptions to this rule, as explained below:-
- The baby is very large – if the baby is known to be very large (macrosomia) then the patient should be asked if she would like a C-section in the later stages of pregnancy.
- An episiotomy is negligently performed – if an episiotomy is not properly performed and this may directly contribute to a third degree tear (e.g. blunt scissors are used or a midline cut is carried out).
- The labour is long and complicated – NICE guidelines state a woman should only be in the second stage of labour for a certain amount of time before doctors proceed to an emergency C-section. Otherwise unnecessary complications may ensue.
Can I sue for a missed third degree tear?
Most third degree tear claims arise because a woman sustains a third degree tear during childbirth, but the injury is not diagnosed and repaired by medical practitioners. Consequently she leaves hospital unaware that she has a defect in her perineum and anal sphincter. Problems will quickly follow, including faecal urgency and incontinence of wind and faeces.
If you have suffered a similar set of circumstances, it is very likely that you will be able to sue for a missed third degree tear. Indeed, there is no reasonable excuse for failing to diagnose a third degree tear. All women who have a vaginal delivery should be examined after the birth, during which any tears should be accurately identified. A failure to do so will amount to a substandard level of medical care. You will therefore be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation.
Suing for a third degree tear
If you would like to claim compensation for a third degree tear, please get in touch with us today and speak to a solicitor.
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