If your third or fourth degree tear was left unrepaired, you will understandably want to know why you were not given the treatment you needed, and whether there is anything you can do about it.
Repairing perineal tears
First and second degree tears are minor injuries that can be sustained by a mother during childbirth. In some cases medical professionals may decide that because the laceration is superficial, no stitches are required.
On the other hand, third and fourth degree tears are serious injuries that extend to the anal sphincter. These must be repaired by a specialist surgeon in theatre. There is no reason why a third or fourth degree tear should be left to heal of its own accord.
Why would a serious perineal tear go unrepaired?
Therefore if a third or fourth degree tear is left unrepaired, questions must be raised as to why this happened. Most commonly, a serious perineal tear will remain unrepaired for one of the following reasons:-
1. An examination was not performed
After vaginal deliveries, all women should be examined for perineal tears. This should include a digital rectal examination, as this is the only way to detect third and fourth degree tears. It is not sufficient to simply look at the area because the skin may look intact, when in actual fact there is a severe tear.
2. An examination was performed but there is a misdiagnosis
There are times when a midwife or doctor will perform an examination but a misdiagnosis is made. In other words, the medical professional mistakes the injury for a first or second degree tear. This ‘under-diagnosis’ means the correct surgical treatment is not given.
What happens when a tear is left unrepaired?
If a serious perineal tear is left unrepaired, the consequences will be very troubling. This is because the laceration extends to the anal sphincter which enables our ability to control the passing of wind and faeces. When the anal sphincter is damaged, function will be reduced or, if the defect is severe, lost altogether. This will lead to:-
- The inability to control wind;
- Faecal urgency;
- Faecal leakage;
- Episodes of faecal incontinence.
A repair can be carried out at a later date, but this will not be as effective as a primary repair (meaning a repair that is performed shortly after the injury is sustained). These symptoms may therefore be permanent.
Have you suffered complications from an unrepaired tear?
If you have suffered complications because your third/fourth degree tear was not repaired, you will be entitled to claim compensation for the damage you have wrongfully endured. Contact us today to find out more.
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