An opera singer and her husband have filed a lawsuit against the United States of America in Federal Court claiming that an episiotomy that was performed during childbirth without her consent has caused her career-threatening flatulence and incontinence. Amy Herbst and her husband, Army Staff Sgt. James Herbst, say that a nurse-midwife, Tiffany Williams, at the Blanchfield Army Community Hospital in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, caused severe injuries during the delivery of their first child.
Herbst, who previously performed with the Nashville Opera Company, says she is now unable to work as a professional singer. The complication arose after she was given an episiotomy during childbirth, which sees the tissue between the vagina and anus cut to help with the delivery of the baby.
The tear was repaired but when Herbst returned to the hospital for a follow-up visit she "complained she could feel gas coming out of her vagina and was also experiencing difficulty controlling bowel movements". A nurse found that the tear had not healed properly leaving the mezzo-soprano with a 'complete breakdown of the episiotomy and perineum and the external sphincter is disrupted and the vagina and rectum are basically connected without any perineal body.'
The problem may not be easy to fix either, with a surgeon telling Herbst that reconstructive surgery may not be enough to help her regain control of flatus and further operations might be needed. She and her husband have now filed a lawsuit, which states: "As a result of her incontinence and excessive flatulence, Herbst has been unable to work as a professional opera singer." They are seeking $2.5 million in damages for medical malpractice and loss of consortium.