Friday, November 29, 2013


If you have had a negligently repaired fourth degree tear, you need to speak to a medical negligence solicitor about the treatment you received, as it may well have fallen below an acceptable standard. If so, you will be entitled to compensation for the damage you have sustained.

What is a fourth degree tear?

During the course of a vaginal birth, it is quite common for the perineum to sustain some form of trauma. The severity of injury will differ from case to case, and will often be determined by factors such as: the size of mother and baby, the length of the second stage of delivery and the use of forceps (or other forms of assisted delivery).

When a perineal tear does occur, medical staff should perform an examination to identify how much damage has been sustained. This will range from a first degree tear, which involves injury to the skin only, to a fourth degree tear, which involves damage to the internal and external sphincter. A fourth degree tear is therefore an extensive injury and must be repaired properly if a woman is to regain normal function.

How is a fourth degree tear repaired?

If a fourth degree tear is diagnosed, a repair should be carried out in a well-lit theatre. Adequate pain relief must be provided, usually in the form of an epidural, and the injury stitched by an experienced obstetrician or colo-rectal surgeon. After the procedure, a woman should be advised upon wound management, while antibiotics, pain relief medication and laxatives should also be prescribed.

Negligently repaired perineal tears.

It is important the entire defect is mended, or a woman will be left to experience on-going complications such as incontinence of faeces and flatus and faecal urgency. Evidently this will be extremely embarrassing for a woman, who may no longer feel able to work, socialise or carry out other day to day tasks. Depending upon the nature of the defect, a secondary sphincter repair and/or additional treatment will be necessary, although a successful outcome is not always possible. Future deliveries will also have to be carried out by way of caesarean section.

What action can you take?

If bowel symptoms do persist after a fourth degree tear, it is important to establish whether the wound has broken down, or whether the repair was performed to a substandard level. In the case of the latter, a woman will have been the victim of medical negligence, as the doctor in question will not have demonstrated the necessary skill and expertise. If this has happened to you, you will be legally entitled to pursue a medical negligence claim for the pain, suffering a loss of finances you have experienced as a direct result of your injury.

To find out whether you are able to make a claim, you need to contact a legal expert who specialises in this area of the law. A medical negligence solicitor will be able to assess the details of your repair before suggesting what action you should take next.

Copyright (c) 2012 Julie Glynn

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