Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) is a drug that most of us have heard of in relation to childbirth. It is frequently used to induce labor, or to move a stalled labor along by producing contractions. In many instances, inducing labor with Pitocin has saved the lives of both mother and child during a stalled labor. It can be beneficial in many instances, as long as it is used properly and guidelines are followed by the medical staff.
Evidence of Overuse
The use of Pitocin nearly doubled from 1990 to 2005, which brings into question whether or not the drug is necessary in many cases. If the doctor is on a tight schedule, overworked, or exhausted, and mother is anxious to end labor, it is often agree upon to use Pitocin to “hurry things along”, which causes unnecessary risk. In many instances, Pitocin is not necessary and negligent use of Pitocin can cause the mother and/or child deadly harm.
How Pitocin Can Harm the Unborn Baby
What you may not know is that the effect of synthetic oxytocin is different than the natural oxytocin produced by a woman’s body. This causes contractions to be different. They can be longer, more forceful and much closer together than natural contractions. This can reduce blood flow to the baby’s brain, causing fetal stress and leading to the following possible risks:
- fetal heart abnormalities
- low APGAR scores
- neonatal jaundice
- neonatal retinal hemorrhage
- permanent central nervous system or brain damage
- fetal death
In preparation for giving birth, women should be aware of these possible effects so they can make an informed decision about their labor. Doctors have a moral and ethical responsibility to alert patients to the possible side effects Pitocin can cause.
If administration of Pitocin is not monitored closely by medical professionals (including the obstetrician, nurses, anesthesiologist, clinic or hospital), or if it is given when all signs show it should not be, medical professionals may be liable for a medical malpractice law suit.
At Passen & Powell, our attorneys take on the responsibility of thoroughly investigating cases of possible birth injury caused by misuse of Pitocin to uncover any evidence of negligent or reckless conduct that caused the injury. We understand this is a great responsibility, and one we do not take lightly.
If you have a question or concern regarding a negligent birth injury case, please call us at 312-527-4500 for a free legal consultation.