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Medical Verdicts

Should episiotomy have been performed?

August 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 8
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<court>Cook County (Ill) Circuit Court</court>

A 28-year-old woman undergoing a vaginal delivery had a perineal tear. In suing, she claimed the resident allowed the perineum to tear before an episiotomy was performed, failed to control expulsion of the fetal head, and failed to support the perineum after episiotomy, leading to a 4th degree perineal laceration extending to the rectum.

The woman noted that she has permanent scarring at the posterior fourchette of the vagina and pain during intercourse, and said the ObGyn left a sponge inside the vagina for a month after repair of the perineum.

The defense contended that tears cannot be predicted with accuracy and that tears/extensions of episiotomies do occur without a breach of the standard of care.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $526,745 against the ObGyn and his group, the resident, and the university.
  • The hospital settled for $75,000.

The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn ( While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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