When people think of birth injuries, they commonly think of doctors who fail to intervene. When a mother or infant goes into distress, medical professionals need to react quickly to prevent potential injuries. They may also think of surgical or procedural mistakes that result in injury. An all-too-often ignored issue is the improper use of medical interventions, including medications, in labor and delivery.
Some doctors will administer drugs that are potentially unsafe in order to speed up the process. Some women can take several days to deliver a baby, which leads to long, stressful shifts for doctors. Speeding up labor isn't always medically beneficial for the mother and child, but medical professionals may attempt to do so anyway. Sometimes, it can result in death or permanent medical consequences for the patients.
A commonly used drug is actually not approved for labor
The drug Cytotec, generic name misoprostol, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for ulcers. It carries a special label that explicitly states that it is not approved for use in pregnant women or during labor. The warning states that there is risk of uterine rupture and hemorrhage. However, there have been reports that some doctors believe it can speed up the effacing and dilation of the cervix, and have given it to women in labor anyway.
Most of the time, administering this drug will not have negative effects. It may or may not have a positive impact on labor. However, it's possible that this drug can also cause a catastrophic injury. Uterine rupture, or the tearing of the uterus, can result in dangerous blood loss, permanent loss of fertility and death of the mother, the unborn infant or both. In a worst case scenario, the mother can die or the damage can be so severe that even if the mother survives, her uterus may need to be removed in an emergency surgery.
Putting patient safety above all else
Despite working long and stressful hours, doctors do their best not to lose sight of a patient's best interests. Nevertheless, mistakes can happen.
Families dealing with loss or serious injuries as the result of off-label administration of misoprostol or Cytotec may want to explore a medical malpractice claim. Using a drug in an off-label manner, against explicit FDA warnings, is simply not a best practice. A medical malpractice claim may be the only way to put an end to this dangerous practice and protect others from the same mistake.