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Possible Side Effects of Pitocin

The Becker Law Firm, LPA

Inducing labor is sometimes done by administering Pitocin through an IV. Side effects should be discussed with a patient before giving this drug. When this information isn’t made available to a patient and it results in injuries to either the mother or baby, it may be considered a form of medical negligence.

For instance, if the healthcare practitioners do not first determine that the Pitocin is needed, the labor could be inadvertently prolonged by its administration and that could then lead to birth defects in the child. This is the situation that happened to Martha Fountain in Iowa, according to an Associated Press article.

Virtually all medication has some risk of side effects. There may be a fine line between waiting things out and the necessity of administering the medication. Risks of waiting should be discussed and weighed with the risks associated with the medication.

Pitocin Side Effects

Some Pitocin risks are specific to the mother:

  • postpartum hemorrhaging;
  • fast/slow/irregular heart rate;
  • high blood pressure;
  • headache; and
  • confusion.

But these aren’t the only issues that can arise when Pitocin is administered. Certain conditions may warrant choosing another option such as women who are predisposed to uterine rupture, which is a tear in the uterus oftentimes requiring an emergency C-Section.

If there is an inappropriate administration of Pitocin, this could also become a problem. Examples include overdosing and failing to monitor the mother and child following administration of the drug.

Overdose may increase risk for:

  • vaginal tearing or bleeding;
  • reduced heart rate; and
  • blood pressure changes in the mother.

Some of the complications that may affect the baby include:

  • fetal distress (caused by close contractions that don’t allow for the uterus to recover);
  • jaundice; and
  • a low Apgar score .

In the end, the benefits of moving labor along may not be worth the potential serious side effects that can be experienced. If the mother or baby is injured and there is a belief that negligence was the cause of the adverse effects, an attorney should be consulted.

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