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Off-label drug use could be fatal during labor and delivery

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2022 | Birth Injuries

After months of pregnancy, the start of labor is exhilarating, if not panic-inducing. Expectant mothers typically rush to the hospital so that there is a licensed medical professional overseeing every stage of their active labor.

These women trust the doctors and nurses overseeing their labor and delivery to employ appropriate interventions when necessary and to guide them through the exhausting and dangerous process of bringing a new life into this world.

Tragically, for a small percentage of expectant mothers, mistakes and poor medical practices by the healthcare professionals providing their care can result in tragic outcomes. Physicians sometimes administer a specific drug off-label during labor, a choice that can have catastrophic consequences for both mother and child.

Cytotec or misoprostol is not approved for use in pregnancy

When a doctor uses a drug for a purpose other than what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it for, their choice is an off-label treatment. Off-label drug administration is typically considered a safe practice as the drugs have undergone testing to show that they are effective and safe for human use.

However, some drugs are not approved for use in all populations. Cytotec or misoprostol is a drug used for ulcers. Doctors sometimes administer it during labor to speed up the labor process. However, the FDA has a very visible warning on the drug advising physicians that it is not safe to use in pregnant women.

It can cause uterine rupture and hemorrhaging in rare cases, which can be fatal for the mother or her unborn baby, sometimes both. Uterine tearing can also result in permanent infertility if the mother survives.

Doctors should stick with what they know is safe

There are numerous medications and treatments approved by the FDA for use during pregnancy and labor. Doctors should follow best practices, especially when their decisions affect not one but two lives.

A woman who suffered catastrophic consequences after a doctor gave her Cytotec during delivery and families grieving the loss of a loved one because of this drug may be in a position to bring a medical malpractice claim against the physician.

Identifying questionable medical care as a source of preventable birth injuries and medical malpractice can give your family the motivation necessary to pursue justice in court.