Drugs are used during in many infant deliveries in the United States. According to the American Pregnancy Association, over half of U.S. mothers choose to take some form of pain relief during labor. Doctors may also administer drugs to induce or slow down labor or in preparation for emergency procedures such as Caesarean sections.
No matter what the circumstances are, there are always risks associated with introducing drugs during childbirth. Medical staff must look closely at patient histories for allergies or other contraindications, and proper fetal monitoring is vital to make sure the infant shows no signs of distress. Failing to meet these standards of care can have devastating effects on a family's life.
If you or your infant were injured due to the improper administration of drugs during labor, you may have been the victim of medical malpractice. Call the dedicated birth injury attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers. Our team of medical malpractice lawyers has extensive experience evaluating cases of birth trauma and identifying possible legal solutions.
Drugs and Your Baby
It’s no secret that having a baby is painful. There are well-known natural methods, such as breathing exercises, that laboring mothers use to help with the discomfort of contractions. However, there are also a variety of medications that doctors use to help women manage pain during labor. The National Vital Statistics Report states that 50 percent of women in Michigan elected to use some sort of pain relief during labor in 2008.
Many times, these drugs cause little or no problems for the mother and baby. But unfortunately, improper administration of drugs during pregnancy can also result in medical crises in the delivery room.
Common methods of pain-relieving drugs used during delivery include:
- Epidurals: An epidural is an analgesic that is injected into a laboring mother’s spinal column during active labor or shortly before a C-section. The medication causes some loss of feeling in the lower body, but allows the mother to remain awake and alert. Over 61 percent of women who had a single vaginal delivery in 2008 opted for an epidural, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey of 27 states, including Michigan.
- Spinal block: Like its name implies, a spinal block involves an injection directly into the mother’s lower back. It is usually a stronger medication than what is given in an epidural and provides quick pain relief, but lasts only a few hours. It is often used in Caesarean deliveries.
- Opiates: Medications such as Morphine, Stadol, Fentanyl, Nubain and Demerol are common types of opiates used to take the edge off and reduce anxiety during labor. The drugs may be administered by spinal injection, an IV drip or using a Patient Controlled Analgesia pump, in which a mother is able to push a button and to release a pre-programmed dosage of pain medication throughout labor.
- Local anesthesia: Doctors may apply minor local anesthesia during labor to repair vaginal tears or to reduce pain during an episiotomy.
Pitocin and Labor Induction
Sometimes physicians need to administer medications to help speed up labor. Induction may happen in a variety of circumstances, such as if a mother’s water breaks with no accompanying contractions, the baby is late, or there are accompanying risk factors such as gestational diabetes or other unanticipated circumstances.
Pitocin is a commonly used medication to induce labor. It is a synthetic form of the natural hormone oxytocin, which enhances uterine contractions to move the baby down the birth canal. It is typically injected into the mother through an IV drip or pump that is regulated to mimic labor as closely as possible.
Regardless of the type of medication, both the mother and baby must be monitored carefully by medical practitioners when any drugs are used during delivery to avoid serious or deadly birth injuries.
Examples of medical malpractice due to the improper administration of drugs might include:
- Improper electronic fetal monitoring to detect signs of distress, such as changes to the baby’s heart rate, respiration or reflexes.
- Failure to take a complete medical history or review it carefully to note any existing allergies or adverse drug interactions.
- Illegible handwriting on medication orders.
- Administering an overdose.
- Failure to note signs of heart attack, stroke, or other hypoxic or anoxic brain injuries during anesthesia.
- Giving the mother the wrong medication during labor.
Contact Our Birth Injury Lawyers Today
Michigan Injury Lawyers is a full service law firm with a team of knowledgeable personal injury attorneys who are committed to obtaining the best possible financial results for our clients. Our attorneys have extensive experience in medical malpractice claims.
If you believe that you or a family member has suffered a birth-related injury in Michigan, you may have grounds for a legal claim against the medical provider. We represent victims of medical malpractice throughout the state.
Based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan Injury Lawyers victims obtain compensation for their birth-related injuries. Call us at 313-438-4357 for a free evaluation of your claim.