Have you just been told that you sustained a 3rd degree tear, even though you gave birth weeks, months or even years ago? If so you will undoubtedly be wondering why your tear was not diagnosed and repaired in the first place.
Sadly the reason is almost always that medical practitioners did not provide you with a reasonable standard of care, allowing your injury to go unnoticed. If this has happened to you, please get in touch with us today. You could be entitled to claim compensation for the negligent medical care you received.
Diagnosing a 3rd degree tear
A vaginal delivery carries the risk of a perineal tear. In fact, it is very common to sustain a minor tear while giving birth, meaning a first or second degree tear. These injuries are limited to the perineal skin and muscles. A smaller percentage of women will suffer a more serious tear, meaning a third or fourth degree tear. These injuries extend through the perineal muscles and into the anal sphincter complex.
Because there is a possibility that a patient may have torn during childbirth, medical practitioners must examine a woman shortly after the delivery. This examination can be conducted by either a midwife or a doctor; both should be competent enough to recognise a perineal tear and categorise the injury as a first, second, third or fourth degree tear. If a midwife is not certain, a more senior opinion should be sought.
Why was my 3rd degree tear not diagnosed?
Therefore they may be three reasons why a third degree tear is not diagnosed after the birth.
Firstly, it may be that an examination was not performed at all. Some women do not have any sort of examination before being discharged from hospital, despite some having complained of intense pain and incontinence. This is not acceptable as any woman who has given birth vaginally should be examined, even if there are no apparent symptoms.
Secondly, it may be that an examination was carried out, but the standard of the examination was poor. For example, it may not have been a thorough examination which incorporated a digital rectal examination (which is the only way to diagnose a third or fourth degree tear).
Lastly, it may be that a full examination was conducted, but the clinician was incompetent. Consequently the injury was missed entirely, or was mistaken as a first or second degree tear.
What can you do?
If a third degree tear is missed for negligent reasons, such as those described above, there will be a case of medical negligence. You will be entitled to claim compensation for the damage this has caused. To find out how to begin the claims process, please get in touch with us and speak to a solicitor.