The degrees and classifications of perineal tears

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2022 | Medical Malpractice |

Some injuries are expected to occur when a mother gives vaginal birth. However, certain types of perineal tears are unnecessary and caused by the doctor’s or nurse’s error. There are four degrees of perineal tears that can be classified in personal injury cases in West Virginia.

Four degrees of tears

A perineal tear is a laceration of the vagina that occurs during childbirth and is classified as an obstetric injury. There are four classifications of tears: first, second, third and fourth degree.

A first-degree tear only affects the skin and tissue of the perineum. Common symptoms are mild pain and discomfort when urinating. A second-degree injury tears beyond the perineal skin, muscles and fascia without affecting the anal sphincter. Stitches are common treatments for this injury, which typically takes two to three weeks to heal.

A third-degree tear affects the perineal skin, tissue, muscles and anal sphincter. The three subtypes of third-degree tears include a tear of the external anal sphincter that measures less than 50% thickness, an external anal sphincter tear that is greater than 50% thickness and a tear of the internal anal sphincter. A fourth-degree tear affects the perineal skin, muscles, anal sphincter and rectal mucosa.


Treatments for birth injuries depend on the extent of the damage. Superficial tears heal on their own after a few weeks. Severe tears can cause prolonged bleeding, pain and potential infections. Very serious tears need surgical repairs. If injuries were caused by doctor negligence, victims may seek compensation for the expenses if they file a personal injury case.

Considering a medical malpractice case

Some birth injuries are harder to avoid than others, but doctors can prevent many forms of perineal tears. When patient injuries are caused by the negligence of medical providers during the birthing process, mothers may be able to receive compensation for their injuries by filing medical malpractice cases.