Can we talk about tears?

Suffering in silence

We may be a more open society than we once were but there are it seems subjects we are still not happy to discuss. The British Journal of Gynaecology reports that 85% of women suffer a tear during their first vaginal birth. Worryingly, the proportion suffering a serious tear, involving the muscles of the vagina and/or anus has risen from 2% to 6% in the 12 years up to 2012. If not a silent epidemic, it is a serious problem which receives little public attention.

The increase in serious tears may be due to women giving birth later in life or the better identification of such injuries but there is no doubt that many women suffer in silence, with their condition being undiagnosed. Who wants to talk about urinary or faecal incontinence at an age when you would not expect to suffer such problems? Who wants to admit that sexual intercourse is painful or impossible, particularly at a time when you might want more children? In the most severe cases, suffering in silence leads to a loss of job, a withdrawal from social life or even an inability to leave the home, so debilitating are the effects of incontinence and pain. Depression and anxiety may, understandably, follow the physical disability.

Bringing the problem into the open

A report published across various media platforms at the BBC yesterday.

Tackles the issue head on, taking up the story of two young mothers who have suffered life changing physical and psychological problems due to tears suffered whilst giving birth and who are now trying to bring about an improvement in the situation. They must be applauded for bringing the matter into the open and allowing their own, very personal problems, to be made public.

At the same time The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and The Royal College of Midwives have joined forces for the first time to launch a campaign to introduce new techniques to reduce the risk of tears, to be trialled in 12 hospitals over the next 2 years. Improved training for midwives, specific to the problem of tears is also becoming more widely available.

So what has it got to do with solicitors?

Whilst some tears may be unavoidable, others may result from poor care at the time of delivery, the failure to recognise the extent of a tear caused during birth or due to a clinician with insufficient expertise attempting to repair a serious tear. When properly identified, a specialist surgeon can do much to repair a serious tear and minimise the long term effects. Too often that opportunity to avoid long term physical damage and psychological distress is overlooked. If your life has changed and you have suffered loss due to poor treatment, it may give rise to a claim to compensate for those losses.

At Clarke Willmott LLP our team of experienced clinical negligence lawyers are familiar with dealing with matters of a personal nature in a sensitive and supportive manner. If you believe you may have suffered injury as a result of poor treatment and would like to talk about it please contact us.