During childbirth, 90% of women suffer from a perineal tear during labour. The perineum is the area separating the vagina and the anus, and normally the midwife or obstetrician will explain the different types of tears you could receive, or you could see them in your medical records down as 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th degree tears (the higher the number, the more severe the tear).
As the 3rd and 4th degree tears are more severe, they should be repaired soon afterwards, preferably within the first 24 hours and no longer than 2 weeks. If the procedure known as ‘Primary Repair’ isn’t done within this time frame, then it will not heal and the doctor may offer you Secondary Repair, of which the success rate is much lower than Primary and can result in incontrollable flatulence and long-term incontinence of faeces.
Therefore, if there’s been a tear whilst in childbirth, it needs to be recorded as soon as possible by the medical staff to ensure that Primary Repair is a success.
Do You Have a Claim against the Hospital?
After giving birth, the midwife or doctor will examine you to check if you have any tears. If you do and they’re 3rd or 4th degree, they should examine you in theater. If torn, the tears will be repaired under anaesthetic to ensure that the stitching of the damaged muscle and skin is done correctly. However, you may have a claim if:
1. The tear was recognised but the Primary Repair surgery was done poorly. If the repair is done poorly, it can lead to a fistula or urinal/faecal incontinence. to ensure that the tear is maintained correctly, you should be given information on how to look after it correctly, but if you report any issues about a potential infection or symptom and nothing was done, then you can claim for medical negligence because this problem could have been avoided with proper care.
2. A 3rd degree tear is diagnosed as a lower graded tear such as 1st or 2nd degree. As a result of been misdiagnosed, the tear will not be repaired correctly and therefore it will cause a serious amount of discomfort for the woman. This normally means the woman has to seek further medical aid, which then normally results in the missed tear been discovered. This issue may not arise straight away, it could be days, months and even years because the concerns could be dismissed by numerous clinicians, or the woman thinks that these discomforts are normal for childbirth. Some of the symptoms include:
- Increasing levels of pain
- Difficulty going to the toilet
- Difficulty having sex
- Vaginal discharge/bleeding
- Leaking faeces or uncontrollable wind
3. The examination that should take place wasn’t done thoroughly enough following the birth, so the tear could be missed by the midwife or doctor, which makes you miss the opportunity for Primary Repair and the Secondary Repair has left you with long-term issues. Some mothers have reported that these issues have left them with a real fear of future pregnancy or birth and psychological damage as well. It’s important to ensure that you seek advice if you’re concerned about the treatment you received as it can affect your day-to-day life.