Medical specialists must resort to the use of certain types of obstetric drugs that are necessary to induce, or change, the labor process. Overall, the two most popular labor changing drugs are Cytotec and Pitocin. Cytotec, also known as Misoprostol, is a drug administered in pill form that is used to treat gastric ulcers. Doctors currently rely upon it (despite the lack of FDA approval for this use) to ripen the cervix and promote the induction of labor. Pitocin is another popular labor-inducing drug (administered intravenously) that is made from a synthetic version of a naturally occurring hormone (oxytocin) used to stimulate contractions in pregnant women.
While most of the time doctors are successful in the use of these types of drugs to facilitate the delivery of a child, sometimes complications can occur. For instance, a number of life threatening birth injuries can arise should Pitocin or Cytotec be improperly administered to a pregnant woman. For a free evaluation of your claim, please call (800) 462-5772 to speak with a qualified attorney at Stern Law, PLLC.
Why are labor inducing drugs sometimes necessary?
For the following reasons, it is sometimes medically necessary to induce a woman’s labor:
- You are overdue by one week or more;
- Your water broke yet you are not experiencing active labor contractions or your contractions are weak;
- You suffer from a medical condition that makes it potentially dangerous for your pregnancy to continue, such as diabetes, hypertension, lung disease, preeclampsia, and placental abruption;
- Your child has a condition that requires treatment yet the risks associated with a vaginal delivery are low;
- Active labor has started yet your contractions are too weak to facilitate delivery;
- You start to experience active labor yet your membranes have not broken.
Complications associated with Cytotec induced labor and Pitocin induced labor
There are a number of complications that can arise as a result of a Pitocin or Cytotec induced delivery, such as:
- Hyperstimulation (Tachysystole) – This is a common labor problem reported with the use of Cytotec and Pitocin. These medications are routinely used to enhance the frequency and the intensity of contraction activity. Close monitoring is essential, however, when these medications are in use to avoid injury to the baby. During the labor process a woman’s contractions should ideally be between 2 to 3 minutes apart and last no more than 60 seconds. Hyperstimulation occurs when there’s an excessive amount of strong contractions (that may be brought on by labor-inducing drugs) occurring at intervals of 2 minutes or less apart – which can cause serious fetal heart rate changes. When hyperstimulation is evident, there is a substantial risk that the placenta will not deliver sufficient oxygen containing blood to the fetus through the umbilical cord. With hyperstimulation, the umbilical cord may also become compressed too often or with too much intensity, which may further compromise a baby’s oxygen supply (and lead to a number of serious birth injuries) if not caught early and addressed;
- Uterine rupture – A ruptured uterus may be caused by hyperstimulation resulting from the improper administration of labor inducing drugs. These types of medications may cause overly intense contractions to occur that can place stress on the uterus and result in a rupture;
- Post-partum hemorrhage – Labor inducing drugs, as mentioned above, can cause hyperstimulation of the uterus, causing a birth to progress too quickly. This places a woman at risk for serious complications, including excessive bleeding;
- Amniotic fluid embolism – This is a rare condition in which amniotic fluid and debris enter a mother’s blood stream, potentially leading to blood clots and cardiorespiratory complications. This may occur due to hyperstimulation brought on by an overdose of labor inducing drugs;
- Fetal distress – This occurs when a child experiences sustained periods of fluctuating heart rates due to complications that arise during pregnancy, labor or delivery. Typically, fetal distress is caused by a lack of oxygen, which can occur as a result of labor augmenting medications such as Pitocin and Cytotec;
- Cerebral palsy;
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy;
- Periventricular leukomalacia;
- Developmental delay;
- Seizure disorders;
- Paralysis – A lack of fetal oxygen caused by drug induced hyperstimulation during delivery is one of many ways in which a fetus can be partially or fully paralyzed at birth;
- Mental retardation – Sustained periods of little to no oxygen – brought on by hyperstimulation – is one of the ways in which an otherwise healthy fetus can become mentally retarded at birth;
- Caput succedaneum;
- Subgaleal hematoma – The use of labor inducing drugs may require the use of medical devices to hasten a child’s birth, potentially leading to this type of fetal injury or other types of hemorrhaging mentioned below;
- Intracranial hemorrhage;
- Subaponeurotic hemorrhage.
Cytotec, Pitocin and medical malpractice
The complications associated with a delayed delivery are caused by a multitude of different factors. Many involve the following cases of medical negligence (whether caused by a doctor, hospital or medical staff):
- Improperly trained doctors and staff;
- Not enough doctors and/or staff to assist a woman in labor;
- Failure to move forward with a vaginal delivery;
- Delayed decision to perform a c-section;
- Failure to monitor for and/or detect fetal distress caused by labor inducing drugs;
- Improper usage of a vacuum extractor or forceps;
- Failure to administer oxygen to a newborn in fetal distress caused by labor inducing drugs;
- Failure to diagnose a pregnancy-related medical condition such as gestational diabetes, which may require the use of labor augmenting techniques;
- Faulty or improperly used fetal monitoring equipment to determine whether a child is suffering from delayed delivery-related fetal distress;
- Failure to diagnose and treat pregnancy, labor and delivery complications associated with a delayed delivery;
- Failure to detect and address certain fetal conditions that may cause a delayed delivery;
- Improper administration of labor inducing drugs (i.e. drug overdose);
- Failure to respond to the signs and symptoms of complications and side effects associated with labor inducing drugs;
- Failure to enlist the help of obstetric specialists to assist with a high risk pregnancy;
- Failure to recognize when a child is in a breech position.
If your child has been injured as a result of the improper administration of labor inducing drugs such as Cytotec and Pitocin, it is important to understand that you may have legal options. Lawyers at Stern Law, PLLC can discussed these options during a free consultation. Call (800) 462-5772 today.