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Induction of Labor and "High-Alert" Drug Pitocin/Oxytocin

Newborn baby foot

Oxytocin is a naturally-produced hormone that plays a role in social bonding, sexual reproduction, childbirth, and the period after childbirth. The synthetic version of oxytocin (brand name "Pitocin") is often used for the induction of labor, and in the labor and delivery process to cause or strengthen labor contractions.Using Pitocin interrupts the natural process of birth, and does not allow for spontaneous labor. Spontaneous labor is generally healthier for both the mother and the baby.

Despite its common use, oxytocin is considered a "high-alert" medication, which means that it has a higher risk of causing significant patient harm when used in error. When harm does occur with high-alert medications, the effects are more devastating to patients.

As a high-risk medication, oxytocin/Pitocin carries numerous risks to both the mother and the baby during and after labor. The FDA Pitocin Package Insert lists risks to the mother, including:

  • Postpartum hemorrhage

  • Rupture of the uterus

  • Uterine hypertonicity

  • Tachysystole

  • Uterine hyperstimulation

  • Water intoxication

  • Death

Risks to the baby include:

  • Neonatal jaundice

  • Neonatal retinal hemorrhage

  • Bradycardia

  • Permanent central nervous system or brain damage

  • Neonatal seizures

  • Fetal hypoxia

  • Fetal death

Because of the numerous devastating risks that Pitocin carries, labor and delivery nurses and physicians must be highly trained to manage Pitocin during labor in order to avoid catastrophic personal injuries. This is especially important because oxytocin is widely used in many, if not all, hospitals that provide labor and delivery services. Mothers must also give informed consent for the use of oxytocin, which means they must fully understand the risks.

The devastating consequences of the misuse of oxytocin can have far-reaching and long-term effects on both the mother and the baby. If you or a loved one has experienced bad outcomes due to an induction of labor, the use of oxytocin or Pitocin, or labor and delivery complications, reach out to the attorneys at Daniel Pleasant Holoman. Babies that experience brain damage during birth may need lifetime care, and our deep and extensive experience in birth injury cases can provide the help you need to hold the responsible parties liable for that lifetime care. There is no cost to speak to someone to assess your case.

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