Pitocin Overdose: A Danger to Newborns

Posted By Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law

6 May. 2015

Just ask any expectant mother, and she's likely heard of Pitocin, otherwise known as oxytocin. Pitocin is a medication that is given to women, usually to induce labor or speed up a stalled labor.

In many cases, a laboring woman is urged by her obstetrician or by nurses to use Pitocin in order to speed up the delivery process. Often, this practice is done out of convenience for the doctors or nurses on staff, rather than medical necessity.

Pitocin is a very powerful drug and if a woman receives too much of the medication, an overdose can lead to an array of negative side effects, including but not limited to:

  • Mania-like disturbances and seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Placental abruption
  • Tears in the cervix or vagina
  • Intense, prolonged and frequent contractions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • An extreme change in blood pressure
  • Uterine rupture
  • Slow to respond
  • Slurred speech
  • Severe pelvic or abdominal pain

How can Pitocin harm a baby?

Beyond what a Pitocin overdose can do to a laboring mother, is what it can do to the baby. A Pitocin overdose can result in adverse reactions in the baby, including:

  • Brain damage
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Decelerated fetal heartbeat
  • Inadequate oxygen supply (fetal hypoxia)
  • Low Apgar scores at 5 minutes
  • Fetal death

Pitocin is most often used to induce or expedite delivery. While it is well-established that the drug can help start a stalled labor and reduce fetal distress, improper use of the drug can have devastating effects on a baby's health. It should not be used unless it is medically necessary.

If the dosage is not carefully measured or if the fetus is not monitored closely, the drug can lead to a serious birth injury.

If Pitocin causes fetal distress, the failure of medical staff to stop the Pitocin could result in permanent brain damage, or even cerebral palsy.

If you or your child has suffered undue injuries from a Pitocin overdose, contact Bergen County Personal Injury Attorney, Brandon J. Broderick for legal advice.

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