If you have suffered a perineal tear as a result of medical negligence during childbirth, you may be entitled to make a claim. If a perineal tear is not repaired correctly, it can have serious consequences for the mother. Many mothers suffer in silence after giving birth but if you think your postpartum care was inadequate or negligent, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
It goes without saying that childbirth is painful and some pain following delivery is to be expected. The pressure caused by the baby’s head can cause cuts and tears in the perineum and sometimes the cervix as well. Most women will have a small tear after birth and anyone who delivers their baby vaginally is at risk of a perineal tear.
These tears are categorised as first, second, third and fourth-degree tears.
First and second-degree tears are the most common, where only the skin or the skin and vaginal muscle are torn.
A third-degree tear is a laceration in the vaginal tissue, perineal skin, and perineal muscles that extends to the anal sphincter. A fourth-degree tear goes through the anal sphincter and the tissue beneath it.
After your baby is delivered (if delivered vaginally) you should be offered a detailed examination by the midwife or doctor. The existence and extent of any tears will be confirmed by this examination. Should a third- or fourth-degree tear be found, the doctor or midwife should provide you with information about surgery and treatment. If you need surgery then you will also need an anaesthetic. The obstetrician will then repair the tear in theatre.
Following the surgery, you should be examined to ensure that the stitches have been applied properly. The majority of women make a full recovery in the 12 months following this procedure, providing there is no delay in recognising and treating the injury by the clinician.
As these injuries are so common and a natural part of childbirth, sustaining them is not necessarily evidence of medical negligence. However, inadequate or negligent treatment of the injuries can be the basis of a compensation claim.
Given the sensitive nature of these injuries, women are often reluctant to discuss them. Many believe they are an unavoidable part of having a baby, however ongoing symptoms can last for years and cause great pain and discomfort.
While it is impossible to see beforehand who may suffer a tear during childbirth, there are some risk factors which can increase the likelihood of a tear occurring. These include:
OP Law’s medical negligence solicitors have successfully claimed thousands of pounds in compensation in cases where severe perineal tears should have been avoided. These include cases involving negligent performance of an episiotomy, where a severe tear has been misdiagnosed or incorrectly treated, or where there has been a delay in treatment. Click here to get in touch or call us on 01727 790510