Missed third degree tear causes incontinence | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Missed third degree tear causes incontinence

On 25 August 2006, Liz who was then 41 weeks pregnant, was admitted to the hospital with regular contractions.

By about 3am the following day Liz was 7cms dilated.  By about 5am she had a strong urge to push. However the baby’s heart rate started to drop with slow recovery. About twenty minutes later Liz was fully dilated.

At 05.30 am a locum registrar reviewed Liz and felt she should be moved to the operating theatre for delivery due to concerns about the baby’s wellbeing.

The locum made two attempts to apply a ventouse cup which were abandoned because of inadequate suction. He then applied forceps and the baby was delivered. 

On 27 August 2006 Liz discharged from the hospital. On 28 August 2006, the Claimant’s perineum was recorded by a community midwife as being swollen and torn open. Liz was suffering with incontinence.

Liz was seen at the hospital at the end of September 2006.  It was recorded in her notes that a third-degree tear was missed.

We argued on behalf of Liz that if a competent repair had been done she would have avoided becoming incontinent. In addition to her physical symptoms Liz suffered anxiety and social embarrassment. We recovered damages to provide for cognitive behavioural therapy to help Liz learn techniques for gaining greater mastery over the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety.

Samantha Critchley acted for Liz on a “no win, no fee” basis.  Based on her experience of similar cases Samantha wrote a letter to the hospital in May 2008 asking for an admission of liability (based on the failure by the locum doctor to realise that the anal sphincter has been torn during the forceps delivery and a consequent failure to perform an adequate repair).

This was before expert evidence had been obtained in an effort to resolve the matter quickly.  In December 2008 the defendant confirmed the claim would not be defended.

We obtained the necessary expert evidence to help us put a value of the claim from experts in the fields of obstetrics, colorectal surgery and psychiatry. 

We served proceedings on the Trust 12 months later, in December 2009.  In January 2010 we settled Liz’s claim for £100,000.

Contact us

For further information about birth injuries to the mother and clinical negligence claims, please call Samantha Critchley on 03304606812 or email samantha.critchley@fieldfisher.com.


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee.