£200,000 settlement for maternal birth injury case after mother suffered incontinence and depression

Tees secured a £200,000 settlement for Beatrice*, who suffered life-changing injuries following the birth of her first child.

Beatrice was admitted to hospital for the delivery of her first child, her daughter, Alanna*.  Beatrice had an epidural for pain relief during labour.   

Alanna was in an abnormal position during delivery and her shoulders became stuck.  Beatrice required an episiotomy (a surgical incision to widen the opening of the vagina, and help prevent spontaneous tears during birth) and forceps to deliver Alanna. Alanna was a fairly large baby weighing over 4kg. A Registrar repaired the episiotomy. 

Shortly after Alanna’s birth, Beatrice suffered a range of symptoms including:

  • Incontinence – Beatrice had problems controlling her bowel movements and passing wind
  • Passing stool through her vagina – later, this proved to be due to a problem with the wall of muscles between the vagina and anus (a fistula)
  • Passive soiling and difficulty cleaning up after going to the toilet.

Several months later, Beatrice was told that she had suffered a third degree tear to her perineum (the skin and muscles between the vagina and anus) and a serious injury to her sphincter (the muscle which controls bowel movements) during Alanna’s birth. She had some physiotherapy and biofeedback (therapy to help control bodily functions), and enjoyed some improvement – but sadly, her symptoms persisted. 

Beatrice became extremely distressed and depressed as a result of her symptoms. Understandably, she was incredibly upset by what had happened. She was unable to return to work full time. Her marriage broke down.  

Janine Collier,  Executive Partner and an expert in obstetric anal sphincter injury (OASIS) claims, acted for Beatrice on a “No Win, No Fee” basis.

Tees proved that Beatrice’s care was substandard. The tear should have been identified after Alanna’s birth, but was negligently missed by the Registrar. A primary repair should have been performed after Alanna’s birth. Beatrice successfully argued that a primary repair would, in all likelihood, have been successful and she would not have suffered problems controlling her bowel movements, passing wind, or the subsequent depression.  Her long-term physical and psychological symptoms could have been prevented. Although the hospital admitted liability at a relatively early stage in the case, this admission was later withdrawn and the hospital fought the case almost to trial, before finally agreeing to settle for £200,000.  

The compensation has given Beatrice (now a single mother and unable to work full time) some financial security and will enable her to fund any treatment that she needs in the future.

“Many women suffer tears during childbirth.  However, these injuries should usually be detected and repaired at the time.  If they are not, the outcome can be life changing – incontinence of faeces, incontinence of wind and depression,” says Janine Collier. “Sadly, it is not uncommon, as in Beatrice’s case, for the marital relationship to break down.  I am proud to be able to help these mothers, many of whom suffer in silence, to rebuild their lives.”    

“I cannot thank you and your team enough for all of your work and commitment over the last few years in helping me secure the best possible outcome in my case. I still feel quite overwhelmed by it all, but in the best possible way,”  said Beatrice, following the news that the settlement was accepted.  

Birth injury to mother claims – tears during delivery

If you suffered a perineal tear, if this was not identified and repaired at the time of delivery and if you suffer continuing problems as a consequence, please contact our Obstetric Anal Sphincter Injury expert, Janine Collier, for some initial advice.

Janine is an expert in this field of medical negligence law. She specialises in cases where a mother has suffered because midwives or doctors failed to notice a tear at delivery. For an initial chat, you can call Janine on 01223 702303 or email janine.collier@teeslaw.com 

*Client names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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Chat to the Author, Gwyneth Munjoma

Senior Associate, Medical Negligence, Chelmsford office

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