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Medical Negligence
Negligent Stitching

Negligent Stitching

With around nine out of ten women sustaining some form of perineal tear during birth, it is not unusual for a new mother to require stitches. While many will go on to make a good recovery, some women sadly suffer from negligently performed stitches, meaning they continue to suffer pain and discomfort in their genital area.

If this has happened to you please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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Stitches After A Vaginal Birth

After a vaginal birth, a mother will often need stitches to her genital area. This is because during the delivery, the perineum (the area of skin and muscle between the anus and vaginal opening) must stretch to make room for the baby. The perineum may stretch to such as extent that it sustains a degree of damage, the severity of which can range from bruising to a fourth degree tear.

If a mother does sustain a tear, this should be recognised either at the time of delivery, or afterwards during an examination by the midwife. It is vital that a tear is not only diagnosed, but that the correct level of tear is confirmed. There are four types of tear, each of which has a different method of treatment:-

  • 1st degree tear an injury to the skin only which will not need stitches;
  • 2nd degree tear injury to the perineal muscles. Will need to be repaired with stitches, which can be performed by a midwife in the delivery suite;
  • 3rd degree tear injury to the perineal muscles which extends to the anal sphincter. Will need to be repaired with stitches, which should be performed in theatre by a specialist (such as an obstetrician);
  • 4th degree tear injury to the perineal muscles which extends further into the anus, causing damage to the rectum and anal epithelium. Will need to be repaired with stitches, which again should be performed in theatre by a specialist.

Additionally, if an episiotomy has been performed during childbirth, this will subsequently need to be repaired with stitches. The nature of the episiotomy and whether it has lead to a tear will determine how extensive the stitching will be.

How Is The Stitching Done?

If a mother has suffered a more minor tear, it is standard practice for the repair to be carried out by a midwife in the delivery suite. A local anaesthetic will be used to numb the area, before the midwife sutures the wound together with dissolvable stitches.

However, should a third or fourth degree have occurred, a woman must be repaired in an operating room. A doctor should again give anaesthetic (usually local although a general anaesthetic is needed occasionally) before using dissolvable stitches to close the wound. A course of antibiotics should then be provided to help prevent infection and advice given on how to care for the perineum while it heals, such as keeping it clean and exposing it to the air for 10 minutes every day.

Negligent Stitching after Birth

After being discharged from hospital, the stitches will cause significant discomfort for several weeks. But in time the swelling and bruising to the perineum should reduce, the stitches should dissolve, and things will begin to return to normal.

Unfortunately, however, there are occasions in which a woman feels her recovery is not going to plan. If so, it is essential to seek medical advice without delay, as there could be a complication arising from negligent stitching. For example:-

  • A tear has not been correctly diagnosed and therefore not properly stitched;
  • The stitches reduce or completely close the vaginal opening;
  • The stitches do not dissolve;
  • The stitches rip;
  • The stitches are performed incorrectly, causing long-term discomfort.

In most of the cases, a mother will need to undergo a second procedure to correct the mistakes made the first time around. This can be traumatising, not only for your body but also emotionally, as you will understandably feel upset that medical errors have caused you additional pain and suffering. If this has happened to you, contact a medical negligence solicitor to discuss your options, as you may be able to claim compensation for sub-standard level of care you received.

Can We Help You With A Medical Negligence Enquiry?

Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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Mrs O, South Wales.

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