Overuse of Pitocin Due to Medical Malpractice

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When an Overuse of Pitocin Causes Personal Injuries to a Newborn

While many women go into labor naturally without any assistance, there are times when a mother may need assistance with starting the laboring process. One method that is commonly used is Pitocin. This is a drug that is administered intravenously to stimulate the start of and progression of labor. While many expectant mothers experience labor induction using this method without incident, there are sometimes instances in which a mother suffers complications.  Other times the misuse or improper use cause cause serious injury.  In fact, overuse of Pitocin could be due to medical malpractice in Oregon.

It is not always obvious when Pitocin has been overused which results in serious personal injury.  But if your newborn baby suffered any of the following personal injuries, this could be due to an overuse of Pitocin including the following:

  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy – also known as HIE, this is a very serious type of birth injury that could result in catastrophic injury, including a lifetime of suffering and personal injury.  It is caused by a decreased in oxygenated blood that caused brain damage.  This can be due to excessive contractions due to Pitocin, or any other number of conditions that should have been recognized and repaired by a healthcare provider.
  • Cerebral palsy – this is a motor condition due to a disorder or group of disorders affecting the parts of the brain that handle movement function.  The damage to the brain is generally in the form of a lesion.  A lesion can result in catastrophic damage as a “dead spot” in the brain where rapidly developing tissue does not form.  As a result, it can result in significant damage and movement disorders, wherein severe movement disorders could result in a person being bedridden and needed around the clock medical care and treatment.
  • Developmental disorders – this could be anything from disorders resulting in speech issues to movement disorders, any type of developmental disorder could result in catastrophic delays and damage to a newborn’s rapidly developing brain.
  • Seizure disorders – when brain injuries are caused by an overuse of Pitocin due to medical malpractice, it can result in permanent seizure disorders that could become fatal in tragic circumstances.
  • Other brain and body injuries, including brachial plexus nerve injuries and other catastrophic personal injuries or damages to the body.

Why is Labor Induced?

Labor is often induced for a variety of reasons. Generally speaking, labor is induced when a mother is unable to go into labor on her own. More specific reasons to induce labor include the following: 

  • The doctor determines your placenta is separating from your uterus. This is referred to as placental abruption. This can also sometimes occur if there is a uterine infection. 
  • You are overdue. Physicians often induce when you are 41-42 weeks pregnant if labor has not yet started on it’s own. This is because after 42 weeks the placenta may not work very well which can be serious as the placenta supplies the baby oxygen and nutrients. 
  • If your water breaks before labor begins, the doctor stimulate labor as it is unsafe for the newborn. This is referred to as premature rupture of membranes. 
  • Preeclampsia 
  • Eclampsia
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • If your baby has stopped growing
  • If your baby is too large in size and may need to be born earlier than your anticipated due date, and
  • Other serious complications.

What is Pitocin?

Pitocin is a drug used to stimulate labor. It is a synthetic hormone that is very similar to the hormone oxytocin, which his produced by the body. Pitocin is given intravenously with IV fluids. Pitocin is started at a slow dose, and gradually increased until the mother is in active labor. Typically, The increase in Pitocin is stopped when contractions occur every 2 to 3 minutes. From there, the Pitocin may remain infusing, may be stopped or adjusted as needed depending on the situation. 

What are Possible Complications from Inducing Labor due to Medical Malpractice?

While many women are induced every day without incident, there are some instances in which a  woman suffers complications from induction due to negligence. Possible complications from the inappropriate use of Pitocin include the following:

  • Tachycardia (abnormally high heart rate)
  • Fetal distress
  • Placental abruption 
  • Bradycardia (abnormally slow heart rate) 
  • Head trauma of the fetus 
  • Hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure)
  • Rupture of the uterus
  • Asphyxia
  • Hypoxic injuries (i.e. hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy)
  • Cardiac arrhythmia 
  • Hemorrhage (from uterine rupture)
  • Water intoxication due to Pitocin’s diuretic effects
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Pelvic hematoma
  • Fetal death
  • Brain damage
  • Seizures 
  • Retinal hemorrhage
  • Death of the mother

These are just a few of the many potential complications from the inappropriate use of Pitocin. 

How Can Pitocin Complications be Caused by Medical Malpractice?

  • Administering Pitocin too aggressively 
  • Administering too high of a dose of Pitocin
  • Failing to recognize fetal distress
  • Failing to recognize maternal distress
  • Choosing to induce when the baby is not in a favorable position
  • Failing to intervene with c-section for complications such as vasa previa, placenta prevue or umbilical cord prolapse
  • Allowing prolonged labor that is dangerous for the mother and baby
  • Using Pitocin when there is known hypersensitivity 
  • Choosing to induce labor when the baby will be too large for the birth canal (cephalopelvic disproportion)
  • Failing to properly monitor the mother and baby during labor 
  • Using Pitocin when the cervix is not yet ready for labor

These are just a few of the many ways that overuse of Pitocin complications can be caused by medical malpractice.

How Can Our Pitocin Labor Induction Medical Malpractice Lawyers Help You?

While labor complications can happen at the fault of no one, there are instances in which these complications can occur as a result of negligence. When these errors occur, it puts the mother and baby at great risk for harm. This is unacceptable. Doctors and medical providers are supposed to help their patients, not harm them. Some of these complications may lead to a medical emergency, brain damage or even death. This is why if you or your child suffered from an injury after the use of Pitocin to stimulate labor, you may be eligible for compensation. Compensation for this type of injury may include the following:

  • Past physical pain and suffering
  • Future physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future wages
  • Past, present and future medical bills
  • Rehabilitative coverage
  • Assistive device coverage if mother or newborn are injured
  • Physical therapy coverage
  • Occupational therapy coverage
  • Speech therapy coverage
  • Loss of consortium 

These are just some of the examples of damages that our lawyers can seek compensation for inappropriate or overuse of Pitocin. But the truth is many families will not realize they have been a victim until it is too late to file a lawsuit in Oregon.  This is why any type of birth injury should be immediately reviewed by a lawyer, even if a doctor or healthcare provider tells you not to worry about the damages or the condition.  As a result, the doctor is either trying to hide the malpractice from you or is trying to get you to wait and allow the statute of limitations period to expire.  If you try to file a lawsuit beyond the statute of limitations period, a court may dismiss your case automatically.  Do not let that happen—call our lawyers.

Ask Kuhlman Law for Help in Oregon Overuse of Pitocin Cases

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.

Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.

We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.

For a free case evaluation


(541) 385-1999 in Bend, Oregon
(503) 479-3646 in Portland, Oregon
(612) 444-3374 in Minnesota

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