Because Your Future Matters

When doctors use an off-label drug during labor with tragic results

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Birth Injury |

Birth interventions can be beneficial for both a laboring mother and her unborn child. Properly administered and timely interventions can help prevent fetal distress and reduce maternal pain. Doctors have a cache of different interventions that they can employ for the benefit of their patients.

From forceps to assist with actual delivery to drugs that speed up contractions, there are many medical means of assisting in labor and delivery. Some of those interventions are safer than others. Doctors often develop preferences for certain interventions over years of obstetric practice. Unfortunately, some doctors may favor interventions that can be very dangerous for patients. One particular intervention sometimes used in maternity wards has a risk of catastrophic failure and can be deadly in some cases.

Certain drugs aren’t safe during pregnancy

Medication can help alleviate pain and strengthen contractions during labor. There are only a few medications approved for use in pregnant women because of how many risks there are for both mother and child. Unacceptably, some doctors choose to use medications not approved for pregnant women during labor and delivery. Off-label prescribing practices involve using a prescription medication for a purpose other than the one that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved. In some cases, off-label drug administration is perfectly safe.

For pregnant women and those in labor, off-label drug use could be a disaster waiting to happen. Some physicians use the drug Cytotec during labor. The generic name for the drug is misoprostol. They do this despite a clear FDA warning about the danger of administering the drug to pregnant women.

Not only is the drug a known abortifacient, but it can cause catastrophic uterine rupture. In other words, in the rare case that a patient has an adverse reaction, the consequences can be tragic. Either the mother or the child, possibly both, could die. There’s also the very real potential of the mother experiencing permanent infertility because of the uterine damage caused by the drug.

Those looking for an explanation for a poor medical outcome during a recent delivery may eventually realize that a doctor administered an inappropriate drug. Pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit is possible in some cases after a doctor does something that contradicts warning labels put in place by federal agencies. A choice to ignore best practices can be a form of malpractice that unnecessarily endangers patients.