If a 3rd or 4th degree tear is not properly repaired, it will almost certainly lead to symptoms for the patient concerned.
What symptoms will there be if a tear is not properly repaired?
3rd and 4th degree tears are injuries which involve the anal sphincter. If a tear is not repaired, or is inadequately repaired, the anal sphincter will remain injured. This will adversely affect function. Consequently the patient will find they begin to suffer problems with regards to passing wind and faeces.
A problem commonly associated with unrepaired 3rd/4th degree tears is controlling/preventing the passage of wind and faeces. Medically this is known as urge incontinence with passive leakage of faeces.
This will mean that a woman is unable to defer defecation for very long and will need to reach a toilet immediately if an accident is to be avoided. Typically there will be a deferral times of less than one minute. This can lead to daily faecal incontinence and a sensation of incomplete emptying. There will also be difficultly controlling the passage of wind.
What treatment can be sought?
If a patient is suffering such symptoms she can be referred for physiotherapy. However, if there is still a defect in the anal sphincter, conservative treatment such as this may prove unhelpful.
A patient may need to wear incontinence pads on a daily basis and take Imodium to solidify their stools. Nevertheless, these are all ways to manage the situation, rather than to actually fix the defect. Further treatment methods should therefore be investigated, such as a surgical repair, biofeedback and sacral nerve stimulation.
Sadly even a surgical repair may not prove effective. Indeed, the best way to treat a perineal tear is when the tissues are fresh and can be easily identified. A delay in surgical treatment will make it much harder to perform a successful repair. A patient’s symptoms may therefore continue or only improve slightly.
Claiming of delayed repair of perineal tear
Unless there are exceptional circumstances at play, a 3rd or 4th degree tear should be adequately repaired soon after the baby is delivered. If this standard of care is not achieved, meaning a woman is left to suffer the consequences of an unrepaired tear, there could be grounds for a medical compensation claim.
To talk to a solicitor about claiming compensation for an unrepaired perineal tear, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.