If you were diagnosed with a first or second degree tear, but you actually had a third or fourth degree tear, you could be entitled to claim compensation for the pain and suffering this has caused you.
Underdiagnosed third degree tear
After a vaginal delivery, a woman should be examined for perineal tears. This can be performed by a doctor or a midwife and should include a digital rectal examination, as this is the only way to detect third and fourth degree tears (which extend to the anal sphincter).
If a tear is present, the examining medical professional must identify how extensive the injury is. It is important to get the diagnosis correct, as different tears require different treatment. If it is a first or second degree tear, a repair can be carried out by a midwife or doctor in the delivery suite. If it is a third or fourth degree tear, an experienced surgeon must be asked to perform a repair in theatre.
As long as the tear is accurately assessed and the appropriate repair performed, a patient should go on to make a good recovery. However, there are occasions when a tear is ‘underdiagnosed’, meaning a serious tear is mistaken for a first or second degree tear. Often this happens because:-
- The midwife/doctor did not recognise the tear;
- The midwife/doctor did not carry out a digital rectal examination;
- An examination was not carried out.
Consequences of a wrongly diagnosed tear
If a woman with a third or fourth degree tear is wrongly diagnosed with a more minor injury, she will not have the treatment she requires. Most notably, her perineum and sphincter will not have been sutured together and so will remain damaged. Within weeks or months this will lead to a variety of symptoms, including:-
- Pain in the perineum;
- Pain while having sex;
- Faecal urgency and leakage;
- Incontinence of flatus (wind) and faeces;
- Recurrent urinary tract infections.
Even if these symptoms result in a third or fourth degree tear eventually being diagnosed, these complications may continue. This is because although secondary treatment can be given, it is not always effective. Repairs are much more likely to succeed when carried out shortly after the birth, so a significant delay will hinder a patient’s prognosis.
Contact us today
If you were diagnosed with a first or second degree tear but later discovered that you had in fact sustained a third or fourth degree tear, you could be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with us today to discuss making a medical negligence claim.
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