Giving birth, or watching a loved one give birth, should be a memorable and joyous occasion. It can also undoubtedly be a stressful, painful, and intense occasion. There are often many unknowns, and expectant mothers and their families rely upon medical providers like OB/GYNs and nurse midwives to protect their health and safety.
Many assume that giving birth in the United States is one of the safest places. Unfortunately, however, the United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among developed countries. Additionally, each year, there are a vast number of non-life threatening, but still very serious, injuries that are caused to mothers and babies when medical providers make errors.
Some of these injuries occur when medical providers negligently perform an episiotomy. An episiotomy is when an OB/GYN or nurse midwife uses operating scissors to cut from the bottom of the mother’s vagina toward her anus in an effort to quickly enlarge the opening for the baby to pass through. There are instances when an episiotomy is necessary, like when the baby is in distress and needs to be delivered quickly. However, there are many other occasions when episiotomies are unnecessary and should not be performed.
In the past, episiotomies were routinely performed because medical providers believed that episiotomies were helpful in preventing worse vaginal tearing. Today, however, episiotomies are no longer the norm. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has advised against the routine use of episiotomies and had made clear that they should only be performed when necessary because they create many additional risks and lead to many additional injuries for laboring mothers.
For example, sometimes OB/GYNs or nurse midwifes can negligently cut the episiotomies too far and cause iatrogenic injuries to the mother. Episiotomy tears are classified as either 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th degree tears based on how far they extend. 3rd and 4th degree tears are the worst, and although not all are caused from cutting too far, some certainly are. Other times, OB/GYNs or nurse midwifes can negligently repair episiotomies after they baby has been delivered. If an episiotomy is cut too far or then repaired incorrectly or both, it can lead to serious consequences for the mother.
One of these consequences can be that the mother develops a rectovaginal fistula, which is essentially a hole between her rectum and her vagina. If an episiotomy is cut too far or repaired negligently, a fistula like this can develop. This can lead to incontinence and the involuntary passage of feces vaginally. Although subsequent surgeries can be attempted to repair these conditions, the surgeries are often expensive, do not have a high success rate, and may fail over time.
Other serious consequences of episiotomies include infections, painful scarring, deep tissue tears, sexual dysfunction, and incontinence.
If you have developed a rectovaginal fistula after giving birth, especially when an episiotomy was performed, of if you have experienced other severe consequences like an infection, painful scarring, deep tissue tears, sexual dysfunction, or incontinence, your injury may have been caused or worsened by medical negligence.
If you suspect that your medical provider made an error that seriously injured you, you should seek legal consultation to determine whether you can recover compensation for your increased medical expenses, permanent injuries, and pain and suffering.
The law firm of Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. and attorney Tyler Dillard have recovered significant amounts for clients who have sustained serious injuries caused by medical negligence, including serious injuries caused by the performance of a negligent episiotomy. Although these cases can be difficult, Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. has access to the best medical experts and is knowledgeable about the medical elements that must be proven.
If you believe you may have been injured as the result of medical negligence, including a negligent episiotomy, please contact Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. and experienced Georgia episiotomy and medical negligence attorney Tyler Dillard for a free case evaluation.