A young woman known only as Ms G to protect her identity, has received compensation from Ipswich Hospital for the failure to correctly diagnose and repair her 4th degree tear following delivery of her first child in 2009.

Ms G was represented in her compensation claim by Leigh Day medical negligence partner Olive Lewin.

Ms G fell pregnant with her first child in May 2008. Her estimated date for delivery was 7 February 2009. She was 22 years old. Ms G was admitted to Ipswich Hospital on 5 February 2009 for induction of labour due to pre-eclampsia. Her son was safely born by vaginal delivery on 6 February 2009.

After he son was born it was noted that she had suffered a 3b tear which was repaired. She was sent home on 8 February 2009and was prescribed painkillers, antibiotics and a stool softener.

Ms G attended her post-natal appointments without concern. It was only in about June 2009 that she reported to her GP that she had noticed some stool on the toilet paper after passing urine.

Ms G was referred in July 2009 for a gynaecological assessment when some mild faecal soiling was observed.

She was referred for electrical stimulation of her pelvic floor muscles which took place in August 2009. When the vaginal probe was removed the physiotherapist saw what looked like faecal type mucus and referred Ms G back to the gynaecologist. She was also referred to see a colorectal surgeon for a rectal examination.

The rectal examination was carried out in November 2009 and revealed absent anal tone and obvious scarring. By December 2009, Ms G was leaking faecal discharge from her vagina about half an hour after opening her bowels. A further rectal examination under anaesthetic was undertaken in March 2010 revealing a large rectal prolapse with 3rd degree haemorrhoids. A subsequent endo-anal ultrasound in July 2010 confirmed damage to both internal and external anal sphincters.

Ms G underwent her first repair in September 2010 but soon reported that she had wind and faecal discharge through the vagina. She was readmitted in October 2010 as an emergency day case as her wound had broken down. Despite this she continued to have wind and faecal discharge through her vagina.

Ms G has since undergone a further 14 surgical procedures, including a colostomy and colostomy reversal, to try and rid her of her symptoms. Despite this, Ms G continues to faecally soil herself on occasion and continues to have difficulties with wind control.

These symptoms have now been confirmed as being permanent. Ms G has a history of anxiety and depression which has been exacerbated by her ongoing symptoms and many procedures. Before suffering her injuries, Ms G had been training to be a childminder. She is no longer able to do this or work in any meaningful capacity.

The case was hard fought by Ipswich Hospital, with liability being denied throughout. It was only at a settlement meeting, five weeks before trial, that monetary offers were made. Ms G was paid a six figure sum by way of compensation.

Olive was assisted by medical negligence solicitor, Charlotte Cooper. Counsel was Christopher Hough of Doughty Street Chambers.

Olive Lewin, medical negligence partner at Leigh Day, said:

“My client experienced a devastating and life-changing injury when her child was born. The hospital’s failure to diagnose and treat this injury means that she is unable to work, constantly suffers from debilitating and embarrassing symptoms, and is prone to anxiety and depression.”