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Third and Fourth Degree Perineal Tears Clinical Care Standard

Perineal tears are common during vaginal birth. Most involve minor lacerations to the area between the vagina and the anus (the perineum). Third and fourth degree perineal tears are the most severe form of tear, affecting 3% of Australian women having a vaginal birth. Associated complications can include faecal and urinary incontinence, pain and reduced quality of life. Australian rates are higher than the average for similar countries in the OECD, and the Second Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation identified up to 12-fold variation across Australia. The clinical care standard aims to reduce the risk of third and fourth degree tears, and improve the care provided to women who do experience them.