The last month of pregnancy can cause mothers-to-be significant impatience. It is very hard to wait for labor to start and that as-of-yet unborn little one to finally open their eyes for the first time. Once labor starts, it is only a matter of time and effort before the mother and child will finally meet.
Labor is a straightforward bodily function that often proceeds on its own without any need for medical intervention. However, there are circumstances in which physicians must take action during a woman’s labor. They might induce labor or perform a cesarean section if the mother or baby begins to struggle.
There are other interventions that physicians can offer as well, many of which can speed up a birth or facilitate a safer birth. Unfortunately, there are certain medical decisions during childbirth that could put a mother and her unborn baby at unnecessary risk for serious injury. The use of a popular medication for an unapproved purpose during labor and delivery still occurs with some frequency and can cause catastrophic birth injuries.
Doctors sometimes use medication for an unapproved purpose
When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) examines a new drug, they verify its safety and its effectiveness. They can then approve it for certain uses. The brand-name drug Cytotec, also known as misoprostol, has FDA approval for treating ulcers.
It does not have approval for administration during labor or delivery because there are recorded cases of catastrophic failures during labor and delivery. In fact, the risk is significant enough that the FDA actually labels the drug with warnings not to administer it to pregnant women as it can cause uterine rupture, potentially leading to hemorrhaging.
If a doctor gives a pregnant woman this drug, she could lose her baby, end up dying or become unable to get pregnant again in the future if she has a negative reaction.
Improper use of prescription medication could constitute medical malpractice
Given that there are other, safer interventions available and that Cytotec carries an explicit warning against use in pregnant women, physicians who administer it during labor and cause injury to patients as a result may wind up facing medical malpractice claims. After all, physicians should first do no harm, and administering a drug that can cause death or infertility does not meet that standard.