Lucia suffered a severe third degree tear while giving birth to her first child. This was not diagnosed and repaired by the medical team, causing her to develop permanent faecal incontinence.
During Lucia’s labour she was seen occasionally by a nurse who said there had been several emergencies and the ward was very busy. Eventually, it was noticed that Lucia’s baby was getting distressed and lying sideways.
Lucia was taken to theatre for a forceps delivery and an episiotomy was performed. Thankfully a healthy baby was born. Lucia could not feel anything because of the anaesthetic, but her medical records state that a rectal examination was performed and the episiotomy wound stitched.
Afterwards she was sent back to the ward where she remained for two days. During this time she occasionally had to rush to a toilet to open her bowels. When Lucia was discharged she asked for her episiotomy wound to be examined as she was worried about her bowel movements, but she was told the medical staff were too busy.
Lucia’s symptoms quickly became worse and she developed ongoing diarrhoea and faecal incontinence. Three days later the community midwife decided Lucia needed to see an incontinence specialist but this would not be possible for six months.
Lucia felt desperate about her situation as she was finding it difficult to care for her daughter due to her own bowel problems. So, two months later, Lucia decided to see a specialist on a private basis. Only then was she told that she had a 3c tear that had been left unrepaired. Also, the episiotomy wound had not healed properly.
She went on to have a surgical repair of her sphincter injury. Sadly this treatment has not improved Lucia’s condition and she remains incontinent of faeces and flatus (wind). Her doctor has said this problem will be permanent.
Lucia must now make sure she is always close to a toilet. This has had a significant impact on her ability to work and on her social relationships.
We advised Lucia that her 3rd degree tear should have been diagnosed and repaired immediately after the birth. The injury should have been evident when the doctor performed a digital rectal examination before suturing the episiotomy wound. A failure to diagnose and repair the injury amounted to medical negligence.
We helped Lucia make a claim for the injuries she sustained because of her negligent treatment. She was awarded in excess of £130,000 compensation.
(Details that might identify our client have been changed.)
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