Copyright (c) 2011 Julie Glynn
Third degree tears are often an unfortunate but perfectly natural consequence of child birth. They cannot usually be prevented, and thus medical professionals cannot always be held accountable. Nevertheless, there are times when the treatment of third degree tears does amount to medical negligence. If you think you have been the victim of such negligence, you need to speak to a solicitor without delay.
What Is A Third Degree Tear?
A third degree tear is a perineal injury which happens during a vaginal birth. Such tears often occur, as the vagina must stretch in order to allow the baby to be delivered. Although the perineum is designed to do this, it is not unusual for the muscles to stretch to such an extent that they tear.
Perineal tears do, however, differ in terms of severity. It may be as little as a superficial nick to the skin or it may be as serious as a deep laceration to the rectum. The scale ranges from a first degree tear to a fourth degree tear (one being the least severe, a fourth being the most).
A third degree tear is therefore the third most extensive tear, and involves damage to the vaginal wall, perineum, anal sphincter and the anal sphincter complex. Third degree tears can be sub-categorised even further depending upon the extent of injury:-
* 3a Less than 50% of external anal sphincter torn;
* 3b More than 50% of external sphincter torn;
* 3c Internal anal sphincter torn.
Why Might You Suffer A Third Degree Tear?
A third degree tear can happen for a number of reasons, the most common of which include:-
* The baby is larger than average;
* An assisted delivery is performed;
* The second stage of labour is prolonged;
* The baby gets stuck behind the mother's pubic bone;
* It is the mother's first vaginal birth.
Does A Third Degree Tear Amount To Medical Negligence?
A third degree in itself does not necessarily amount to medical negligence. Indeed, it is an unfortunate but realised fact that tears happen during child birth, and they can not always be prevented.
Medical negligence claims do often arise, however, if there is a missed third degree tear, a misdiagnosis or a poorly repaired tear. We take a look at each of these in greater detail:-
1. Missed third degree tear.
After a vaginal delivery, a mother must undergo a genital examination to ensure any damage is quickly recognised and repaired. If a third degree fails to identified, a woman will leave hospital without the appropriate treatment. This may happen if the examination is either not carried out, or if the person doing the examination is incompetent.
2. Misdiagnosis of a third degree tear.
There are occasions when damage is identified after child birth, but the extent of harm is underestimated. This would that mean a woman was thought to have a first or second degree tear, when in fact she had a third degree tear. Again, this would mean a mother leaves hospital without receiving the correct treatment.
3. Poorly repaired third degree tear.
Even if a third degree tear is correctly diagnosed, there are cases in which the repair is done to such a poor standard that a mother continues to suffer complications. In such an event, it will be very likely she will need to have corrective treatment.