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Croydon University Hospital

A claim settles for a mother whose fourth degree perineal tear was misdiagnosed and left untreated at the Croydon Health Service NHS Trust. The Claimant was admitted to Croydon University Hospital for delivery of her first child. The labour was difficult and the management of it by the attending midwife and trainee was less than optimal.

After the delivery of her baby the Claimant was examined on the delivery bed and told that the midwives could spot a small graze and they said that there was no need to do a repair. She and her baby remained as inpatients for another two days but, notwithstanding the Claimant complaining of passing blood clots, the fourth degree tear was not diagnosed and she was discharged home with her baby.

She continued to have discharge and pain and discomfort down below until her partner told her he could see a tear. She went back into the Trust where she was seen by a member of the obstetric team who confirmed that she had suffered tears of the internal and external anal sphincters and the injury was at least 4 cm long. She had developed infection in the wound and she was advised she would need surgery to repair it plus intravenous antibiotics.

The surgery would in itself be more complex than it would have been had the tear been repaired immediately post-birth. The infection initially healed over a period of a few days but took some time to fully clear and the Claimant had two further attendances at the hospital's A&E Department for antibiotics and treatment. However she did make a good physical recovery.

The circumstances around the discovery of the wound, and the distress the Claimant felt at being separated from her new born baby during the admission for further surgery was significant, and she found herself unable to come to terms with what had happened to her. In particular feeling that she had been left with fragility in the perineal area and developed a fear of sexual intimacy with her partner. She and her partner's relationship broke down and she underwent treatment for the psychological injuries she had sustained. 

Now that the claim has settled she can finally put events behind her and hopes to be able to use the damages recovered to support her and her family and fund further treatment.

Image credit: By bob walker from London, UK (Croydon University Hospital) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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