Pharmacological advances have made pregnancy, labor, and delivery safer and less painful than in decades past. Unfortunately, the risks associated with certain medications are not always fully understood. Improper use of medications can cause serious injury or even death to a mother or an infant. If a doctor or other medical professional’s negligence results in a preventable birth injury, the victim or the victim’s surviving loved ones may have a valid medical malpractice claim. Compensation for past medical bills, future medical care, pain and suffering, and other damages may be available.
Medication Mistakes That Often Lead to Medical Malpractice Claims
Any patient can suffer injury or death from mistakes involving medications or medical procedures; however, pregnant women are especially vulnerable to medical mistakes. The birth process is already very hard on a woman’s body. When doctors and other medical staff do not uphold their duty to provide competent medical care, they put the woman’s life and the life of her unborn child in danger. One of the most egregious types of medical negligence occurs when a pregnant woman is given the wrong type of medication. Doctors, nurses, or other staff may misread the medication label or otherwise become confused and administer the wrong drug. Another serious error occurs when a woman is given an inaccurate dose of a medication.
Medication Errors Involving Pitocin
When labor is not progressing normally, an infant can be at risk of asphyxia and other dangerous conditions. Consequently, a doctor may choose to use medications to expedite the birth. A synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin is sometimes used to accelerate delivery despite the risks associated with this drug. This medication, often referred to by the brand names Pitocin and Syntocinon, makes the mother’s uterus contract. There is significant debate as to the effectiveness and safety of this medication. If Pitocin is administered incorrectly or at an excessive dose, the mother’s contractions may become too intense and cause a detached placenta or “placental abruption.” If the placenta becomes partially or fully separated from the uterus, the infant will be deprived of oxygen and nutrients. This could lead to fetal brain injuries, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), fetal stroke, stillbirth, and maternal hemorrhaging....