A third degree tear during childbirth can, if inappropriately treated, leave the woman with wind and faecal incontinence. Diligence by medical staff can prevent the woman from experiencing appalling symptoms.
A perineal tear is an injury to the area between the vagina and anus caused to the mother during a vaginal birth. They can be superficial and cause minimal impact or they can cause a lifetime of disability, distress and discomfort. Therefore, all medical practitioners involved in supporting a woman through childbirth need expertise in diagnosing perineal tears accurately.
Failure to diagnose
If an examination of the woman after the birth is inadequate or does not happen at all, there is a risk that she may have suffered a perineal tear unknowingly.
If untreated, she could start to experience a range of symptoms which may deteriorate over time:
- Inability to control wind
- Inability to prevent loss of faeces
- Pain during intercourse
- Infections of the perineum
If the woman reports her symptoms to a medical professional, she may eventually get an accurate diagnosis and repair. However, delayed treatment may be less successful than prompt treatment shortly after the birth.
If an examination is carried out but is insufficiently thorough, the woman may find herself with a diagnosis of a 2nd degree tear when she has, in fact, suffered a third or fourth degree tear.
This is likely to mean that the subsequent repair will be significantly inadequate and the woman could suffer the above-mentioned symptoms. This can cause considerable distress as well as requiring the woman to be constantly close to a toilet. It can affect her ability to care for her new baby as well as affecting her ability to work.
Even when a third degree tear is diagnosed, precision and accuracy are required.
Third degree tears damage the anal sphincter which controls the bowel but the extent of that damage may vary and the repair should vary accordingly.
- A 3a tear damages less than 50% of the external sphincter muscle
- A 3b tear damages more than 50% of the external sphincter muscle
- A 3c tear additionally damages the internal sphincter
If a woman who has suffered a 3c tear is diagnosed as having suffered a 3a tear, the fact that she has suffered internal damage has passed un-noticed. Therefore, the internal damage may not be repaired. Even though she has undergone a surgical repair of her tear, the woman may still suffer from faecal incontinence and may even develop a fistula or hole between her rectum and vagina due to breakdown of internal tissue.
Was your tear misdiagnosed?
If you are suffering with the dreadful effects of an undiagnosed or misdiagnosed birth tear, you could consider making a claim for compensation.
Contact Glynns Solicitors. As specialists in medical negligence, we have successfully supported many women in claims for substandard care of perineal trauma and would be very happy to discuss your situation with you.