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Off-label drug use in labor endangers both mother and child

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2018 | blog

Most expectant mothers take time selecting an OB/GYN who is capable of providing top tier care and who agrees with the mother’s birthing preferences. Unfortunately, for some expecting mothers, the doctor they chose isn’t available when they go into labor. Other times, a doctor you carefully selected and trusted with your health and the life of your infant makes choices for his or her own convenience instead of your safety.

The overuse of medical interventions in labor and delivery can complicate an otherwise natural process, putting both mother and child at risk. Sometimes, the negative outcome is simply the need for surgical delivery. Other times, the consequences can be catastrophic. That is sometimes the case when a doctor administers a drug called misoprostol during labor.

Misoprostol is not approved for use in pregnant women

Misoprostol, which is marketed under the brand name Cytotec, treats ulcers. It has no approved uses in pregnant women or during the labor and delivery process. However, some doctors administer this drug either to reduce potential bleeding after delivery, induce contractions or soften the cervix. It is not a medically necessary drug, and there are better and safer options available.

The FDA specifically labels this drug with a warning that there is no approved use in pregnant women. Not only is there a lack of evidence that this use is safe for mother and child, there is horrifying evidence to the contrary readily available.

Misoprostol can cause uterine rupture and death

A small number of women who receive this drug during labor and delivery experience uterine tearing. That, in turn, can cause severe blood loss, endangering both mother and baby. In some cases, the unborn child could die as a result of the uterine rupture. Other times, the mother could die from blood loss. Even in cases where neither dies, the mother could very likely require an emergency removal of her uterus, rendering her permanently infertile in the future.

While a doctor may have anecdotes related to previous administrations of the drug, anyone could have a sudden negative reaction to it. There is simply no way to predict who will respond poorly. Given the very serious risks associated with the improper, off-label use of this drug, medical professionals should never administer it to a woman in labor.

Off-label drug use could be medical malpractice

Between the history of sudden deaths and the very clear label on the drug from the FDA, there is simply no excuse for a medical professional to endanger a mother and child with off-label drug use.

Those who experience a negative reaction to misprostol or those who have lost a loved one as the result of its use may need to explore filing a medical malpractice claim against the OB/GYN involved.

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