After a five year legal battle, a Leicestershire mother has received substantial damages for the delayed diagnosis and treatment of a birth injury that left her incontinent.
After an uneventful pregnancy, the claimant (K), a 31-year-old woman, was admitted into hospital on 8th November 2007, six days overdue. Like around one in eight women, K had an assisted birth, where forceps or a ventouse suction cup are used to help deliver the baby’s head. During this procedure, her anal sphincter was damaged internally and externally.
Following the birth, K suffered pain and incontinence, which she was told was caused by haemorrhoids, a common condition amongst postpartum women. After further physical examinations, she was told that the tissue between her anus and vagina was very thin, but again, the sphinctal tear was missed.
Over the next twelve months, K suffered diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and blood in her stool and went to her GP for tests, but the results came back normal and no further action was taken. In December 2008, when her symptoms had not improved, K’s GP referred her to an urogynaecologist, and the following month, she was referred to a colorectal surgeon. K’s injury was eventually diagnosed in February 2009, over a year after giving birth. She underwent surgery in 2012 and 2013, but was told that she may remain doubly incontinent for the rest of her life.
K decided to bring an action against the NHS Hospital Trust for failure to diagnose the tear at delivery and failure to repair the tear in the postpartum period. She contended that, had the tear been diagnosed and repaired earlier, she may not have been left incontinent.The injury had a huge impact on K’s quality of life, leaving her unable to return to full time work.
After five years of negotiations, the NHS admitted liability and the case was settled in December 2013 for a six-figure sum.
According to founding partner Mehmooda Duke of Moosa-Duke Solicitors, “K’s story is particularly distressing because multiple opportunities to diagnose the injury were missed.”
“After five years of uncertainty, we are pleased that K has finally achieved closure. While the damages she received cannot give her back her health, we hope she will now be able to move on with her life and concentrate on motherhood.”