Damages awarded to mother following Obstetric Anal Sphincter Injury (OASI)
We all know that giving birth is painful and that when a woman is in the process of giving birth, there is little room for modesty or embarrassment.
For most women once the baby is born, they will recover from the trauma of childbirth and be able to focus on the challenges of motherhood. However, for some women, injuries sustained during childbirth will cause ongoing and sometimes permanent symptoms.
This was the case for a client I acted for recently when she attended hospital to give birth to her first child. The pregnancy had been uncomplicated. Initially the labour progressed normally but in the latter stages the foetal heart rate began to drop. She was transferred to the delivery suite and forceps were used to deliver the baby. Following the birth she was advised that she has suffered a second degree tear and that this had been repaired.
Immediately after the birth the claimant became aware that she was not able to control her bowel movements. Initially she attributed this to the birth trauma and assumed that this was normal. However, her symptoms continued. She began restricting her food intake in an effort to control her symptoms. While this helped it did not completely resolve the symptoms. It also resulted in her losing a lot of weight. She was too embarrassed to discuss the symptoms and told no-one until about six months after the birth, when she finally confided in her mother. Following the discussion with her mother she arranged an appointment to see her GP and was then referred on to a specialist. She underwent various tests which confirmed that she had in fact sustained a third degree tear at birth and that this had not been recognised and repaired appropriately at the time. She was advised that if she underwent revision surgery there was a risk, in her case, that the symptoms would be made worse. Other treatments such as nerve stimulation were being considered at the time of settlement.
She was able to manage the symptoms to a certain extent with the use of daily suppositories and restricted diet and incidences of incontinence were rare. However, this obviously impacted on her lifestyle significantly and the fear of suffering an episode of urgency and being unable to get to a toilet prevented her from participating in many activities.
Even at quite an advanced stage in the litigation when she had discussed her symptoms with me, her Barrister and with various experts, I can recall her advising that she had not spoken with her husband about the extent of her symptoms as she was simply too embarrassed.
The defendant eventually admitted liability and the claim settled for £62,500.
Clarke Willmott is extremely experienced in dealing with claims involving traumatic birth injuries. We are also a Legal Partner of The Masic Foundation, a charity who support women with injuries from childbirth.
If you, or someone you know, has suffered a similar injury and would like further advice in relation to pursuing a legal claim, then we would be happy to speak with you.