Labor and Delivery Medication Errors | Anesthesia, Cytotec, and Pitocin
When labor and delivery medication errors result in an injury to a mother or baby, it is medical malpractice. Because some of the most commonly-administered medications during birth are associated with significant complications, it is critical that medical professionals carefully explain the potential risks and benefits and obtain the mother’s informed consent.
Here, we have compiled pages on a few notable medications that may be given during the birthing process. Please click on the links below to learn more information about each of these drugs.
Often, expectant mothers are given some form of pain relief during childbirth, such as an epidural or spinal anesthesia. Anesthesia during labor and delivery comes with potential complications; these vary greatly based on the type of anesthesia given, as well as individual health circumstances. The following are just a few examples of health issues that may arise, especially when anesthesia is improperly administered:
Maternal problems (1):
- Difficulty urinating
- Nerve damage
- Severe headache
- Maternal hypotension/a hypotensive crisis
- Injuries associated with forceps and vacuum extractors (these tools are often needed when a mother has been given an epidural) (2)
- Injuries associated with maternal hypotension (low blood pressure), such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) (3) and fetal acidosis (4). The negative effects of maternal hypotension on the fetus are likely associated with poor placental perfusion (5).
Cytotec and Pitocin complications
For many years, both Cytotec (misoprostol) and Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) have been used to aid in the induction and progression of labor. However, recent studies have found that using these drugs can be dangerous. Labor induction (or cervical ripening) is an off-label use of Cytotec, which was developed to prevent stomach ulcers induced by NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin). When used in obstetrics, Cytotec has been known to cause serious problems such as uterine hyperstimulation/tachysystole and uterine rupture, both of which can lead to serious birth injuries (6). Pitocin has also been associated with contractions that are too frequent and too strong, preventing proper oxygenation of the baby. Improper or excessive use of Pitocin can be associated with maternal hemorrhages, lacerations, and other serious medical problems (7).
Michigan birth injury attorneys helping victims of labor and delivery medication errors
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with permanent injuries or disabilities as the result of labor and delivery medication errors, we encourage you to learn more about your legal options. Our team of attorneys has decades of experience handling cases specifically related to birth trauma, birth injuries, medical malpractice, and labor and delivery medication errors. Although we are based in Michigan, we can work with clients in many parts of the U.S. Please reach out today to begin your free case evaluation. For that matter, you pay nothing throughout the entire legal process unless we win or obtain a favorable settlement.
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- Spinal and epidural anesthesia: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2019, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007413.htm
- Pregnancy and birth: Epidurals and painkillers for labor pain relief. (2018, March 22). Retrieved January 3, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279567/
- Allen, K. A., & Brandon, D. H. (2011). Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy: pathophysiology and experimental treatments. Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews, 11(3), 125-133.
- Bobrow, C. S., & Soothill, P. W. (1999). Causes and consequences of fetal acidosis. Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition, 80(3), F246-F249.
- Zhang, J., & Klebanoff, M. A. (2001). Low blood pressure during pregnancy and poor perinatal outcomes: an obstetric paradox. American journal of epidemiology, 153(7), 642-646.
- Cytotec (Misoprostol): Side Effects, Interactions, Warning, Dosage & Uses. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2019, from https://www.rxlist.com/cytotec-drug.htm#side_effects
- Pitocin® (Oxytocin Injection, USP) Synthetic[PDF]. (n.d.). FDA.