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Medical Negligence Claims

Perineal Tear Compensation

Making a claim if you were injured in childbirth

Women who have suffered vaginal and perineal trauma are often reluctant to discuss their symptoms, sometimes thinking it is a necessary part of having a baby.

If you’ve experienced tearing during childbirth and a lot of pain or complications afterwards that you feel your doctor misdiagnosed or mistreated, you may have a claim for negligence.

Many women suffer physical and psychological problems after experiencing a perineal tear.

Sometimes this means they have to give up their work and are unable to leave their homes with any confidence. It can significantly affect your lifestyle, relationships with your family and friends. Poorly managed perineal tears can result in life-changing injuries such as incontinence and may require those future babies are delivered by caesarian section.

Dawn Bagley

Solicitor - Head of Personal Injury & Medical Negligence

Philip Browell

Solicitor & Senior Director

Angela Rowney

Solicitor - Medical Negligence

Kirsty Dockerty

Legal Clerk - Personal Injury & Medical Negligence

Lucy Anderson

Trainee Solicitor - Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence

Perineal tear compensation will include:

  • Compensation for the injuries that you have sustained, both physical and psychological;
  • The loss of earnings now and in the future that are related to your injuries
  • Any additional costs for treatment, therapy and travel to and from sessions

The amount of compensation will depend on your precise circumstances. When advising you we will need to consider the nature of the negligence, the severity of the tear and symptoms and impact on your future.

Perineal tears – Do I have a case?

It is not always possible to avoid these severe tears as they happen spontaneously during the birth and cannot be predicted. There arehowever  certain factors which may make a woman more prone to suffering a tear and these include:

  • first time pregnancies;
  • women of South Asian origin;
  • multiple births;
  • a birth weight greater than 4kg;
  • a prolonged second stage of labour;
  • instrumental delivery (involving forceps or Ventouse.)

Could my tear have been prevented or could I have received better after care?

Often the fact that a woman tears is not in itself a problem. The problem arises either in failing to prevent a more serious or uncontrolled tear by appropriate management in childbirth or in relation to the way in which the tear was repaired. If this is not done correctly then it can have significant consequences for the woman and result in an injury for which you may be able to claim compensation by way of a medical negligence claim.

There are four grades of tear:-

  • Grade 1: injury to skin only and although the underling muscles are exposed they are not torn
  • Grade 2: injury to perineal muscle but not to anal sphincter
  • Grade 3: injury to the perineum involving elements of the anal sphincter but where the rectal mucosa is intact
  • Grade 4: injury to the perineum where the anal canal may be torn and the tear may have spread to the rectum

How should my delivery have been managed?

The RCOG has set out guidelines for the management of third and fourth degree tears.

Every tear should be adequately assessed post delivery to ascertain the severity of the tear, particularly to ascertain if the tear involves the anal sphincter.

For a third or fourth degree tear it is recommended that they should be repaired in theatre with either regional or general anaesthetic. This allows the anal sphincter to relax so that the torn ends can be retracted and brought together without tension.

A third or fourth degree tear should always be repaired by an appropriately trained obstetrician. Inexperienced attempts at anal sphincter repair may contribute to a poor outcome including incontinence and prolonged pain and recovery.

Following a third or fourth degree repair it is recommended that women are given broad spectrum antibiotics for 5-7 days as well as a laxative. After about 6 to 12 weeks women should be offered physiotherapy and they should be reviewed by an experienced obstetrician and gynaecologist.

The provision of antibiotics is important as the development of infection will pose a high risk of anal incontinence and fistula formation if the repair breaks down.

If a perineal tear is correctly assessed and competently repaired then the prognosis is good with 60-68% of women asymptomatic within 12 months. I tears are not appropriately managed then the mother can suffer life changing injuries.

How can we help

We understand that perennial tears it can be a sensitive issue to discuss, causing both physical and psychological pain. Our lawyers are recognised obstetric litigation experts with specialised medical expertise, a specialised member of our team will be willing to discuss your treatment and advise whether you have a claim relating to your perineal tear. We will explain the steps that will be taken in your case and are available throughout to offer advice and assistance during the process.

A trained member of our team will be more than happy to advise and our initial advice is free of charge. If we are able to accept your case on a no win no fee agreement we will be happy to do so.

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