Potentially Dangerous Medication Errors

From the very first appointment with their obstetrician, women are warned about what they put into their body.  In particular, they are told about the types of medication that can cause injury to their developing babies.


Knowing this, obstetricians, nurses and anesthesiologists must be very careful when prescribing and administering medication, even in those last few hours before delivery.  Those medications have the potential to cause serious and permanent harm.

Medications Prescribed Before Labor

Many medications have not been adequately tested on pregnant women, and so their effects on the women and their unknown babies are not well-known before those drugs reach the marketplace.  When those drugs cause injuries to the baby, the family may have a product liability lawsuit.  In other cases, medications are well-known to cause injuries to unborn children.  Doctors who prescribe them without verifying that their patients are not pregnant may be subject to medical malpractice lawsuits.

Many antidepressants, including Paxil and Prozac, can cause severe injuries, including persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), hearing loss, seizures, heart defects and brain damage.  Other dangerous drugs include:

    • Accutane (acne medication)
    • Topomax (anti-seizure medication)
    • Depakote (anti-seizure medication)
    • Some antibiotics
    • Anti-cancer drugs

Medications Given During Labor

Anesthesia & Epidurals

Anesthesiologists are responsible for ensuring that the proper amount and types of medication are given to expectant mothers in the proper manner.  Particularly with epidurals, where the medication is administered directly into the spine, there is no room for error.  The wrong medication, wrong amount, or a needle inserted into the wrong place can have catastrophic effects on the mother and child.

For more information on anesthesia and epidural medication errors, see Negligence of Anesthesiologists During Labor & Delivery.

Cytocec (Misoprostol)

Cytotec was originally created as an ulcer treatment drug, with warnings against use by pregnant women because it was linked to early abortions.  As time went on, doctors began using Cytotec off-label (in a manner not prescribed by the drug’s manufacturer) as a cervical ripening agent because it causes uterine contractions and ripening of the cervix.  Many doctors believe that Cytotec is more effective than Pitocin when the cervix is not ripe.  In fact, Searle, the manufacturer, has stated that the drug carries risks of uterine rupture, uterine hyperstimulation, amniotic fluid embolism and death.  It may also cause premature birth and birth defects.

Despite these warnings, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) supports continued use of Cytotec to induce pregnancy.  It can be taken orally or inserted directly into the vagina.

Pitocin (Oxytocin, Syntocinon)

Like Cytotec, Pitocin is also a drug used to induce labor.  It can cause contractions in the second and third stages of labor.  The amount must be closely regulated, otherwise there is a significant risk that of uterine hyperstimulation, which can cause fetal distress through rapid and strong contractions that restrict oxygen and blood delivery to the baby, or even uterine rupture.  Pitocin is given through an IV.

Contact us

If you believe that your child was injured because of a medication error, defective medication, or improper administration of medication, contact our medical malpractice and product liability lawyers at (855) 712-7818 or online for a free consultation.  Your child may be eligible for a lawsuit that can help to pay for the extraordinary expenses he or she will incur over a lifetime.

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