A third degree tear is a perineal injury suffered during the vaginal delivery of a child.
If you have suffered a third degree tear during child birth, you may well be able to claim medical negligence compensation.
Glynns solicitors specialise in third and fourth degree tear claims and can advise you instantly on the reason your third degree tear occurred, what remedial treatment may be available, and whether you can make a claim for compensation.
Third Degree Tear research
According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, around nine in 10 women will tear to some extent during childbirth. These will vary in severity and will be classified as a first, second, third or fourth degree tear, according to the extent of damage sustained.
First and second degree tears are fairly superficial wounds that can be easily repaired in the delivery room by a midwife. But a third degree tear is a serious laceration that requires specialist attention from a surgeon.
What is a third degree tear?
A third degree tear is an injury that involves the perineum (the area of skin between the vagina and anus) and the sphincter muscles. Third degree tears can be further sub-divided into 3a, 3b and 3c tears, depending upon how far the injury extends into the anal sphincter complex:
- 3a: partial tear of the external sphincter involving less than 50% thickness
- 3b: tear of the external sphincter involving more than 50% thickness
- 3c: external and internal sphincter torn
Who will suffer a third degree tear?
A third degree tear can happen to anyone giving birth vaginally, although there are certain factors that increase the risk of such an injury. These include:
- First time giving birth vaginally
- An instrumental delivery (such as a forceps or ventouse delivery)
- Prolonged second stage of labour
- Baby is large for its gestational age (called macrosomia)
- A midline episiotomy
- An epidural anaesthetic
- Birth complications such as shoulder dystocia
A third degree tear cannot normally be prevented, so the fact that it has happened will not amount to negligence. However, it is the responsibility of medical professionals to ensure a third degree tear is diagnosed and repaired. If there is a failure to do so, the level of care could be considered substandard.
Management of a third degree tear
Third degree tears will of course be fairly painful. But as long as the injury is recognised and repaired soon after the delivery, and you are given the necessary advice and support, you should make a full recovery from a third degree tear.