Off-label drug use during labor could result in a tragedy

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2017 | Birth Injuries

Pregnancy is often a time that is both terrifying and full of joyful expectation. Mothers-to-be often do anything in their power to ensure a healthy pregnancy with the hopes of giving birth to a healthy newborn. Regular doctor visits, exercise, healthy eating and even supplemental vitamins can all play a crucial role in the development of an unborn child. Sadly, all of that hard work can be undone by one medical mistake.

Many doctors who work in the OB/GYN field do so because they enjoy working with expectant mothers or new infants. Sadly, some of them are just there for the paycheck, and that can end up impacting the quality of care provided to expectant mothers and those in labor. Doctors can make decisions based on their own needs, such as speeding up labor when it is progressing properly, if too slowly for their liking.

Doctors may use unnecessary interventions to speed up birth

Whether they want to finish a shift or hope to decrease the turn-around time for the room a patient is in, doctors can make decisions based on speeding up a natural process without a sound medical reason. Sometimes, that can mean performing a completely unnecessary Caesarean section. Other times, it may mean other interventions, such as drugs intended to speed up labor.

One such drug is Cytotec, also called misoprostol for generic brands. The FDA has approved this drug for ulcer patients, but not for use in pregnant women or during labor. Some doctors believe that the drug may help speed up the process of softening the cervix or even inducing contractions. However, there are better options, like pitocin, when it comes to drugs to help induce labor.

Misoprostol could endanger both mother and child

The FDA is very clear about the fact that this drug should not get administered to a pregnant woman. In fact, the FDA has an alert on their website and warnings included with the drug itself. Doctors are only supposed to use the drug for those with ulcers. There is simply no approved use during labor. The reason why is horrifying.

In a small number of women, serious side effects can occur. These include uterine tearing and hemorrhage. In fact, both mother and child could die as a result of the off-label administration of this drug during labor or delivery. In some cases, the mother dies of blood loss while doctors are able to save the infant. In other cases, uterine tearing could result in the child dying, while the mother has to live with the guilt and loss.

Sometimes, medical staff can intervene after a negative reaction, saving both the mother and child. In these situations, however, uterine tearing can result in permanent damage and even the need for a hysterectomy. That can leave a mother unable to conceive and bear children again.


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