As soon as most women learn that they are pregnant, they immediately begin to carefully watch every medication they put into their body. This is because they understand that many pharmacological products can put their developing baby in jeopardy. In spite of their vigilance, however, it is still possible for a child to be harmed by drugs that are given to induce labor, increase the power of contractions or even to minimize the pain of delivery. If you believe you or your baby was harmed by drug-related negligence, you need to understand and pursue your legal options in a timely way.
Definition of Drug-related Negligence
If your child has been diagnosed with a birth injury, the first step is to learn how the harm occurred. Unfortunately, drug-related negligence is one of the main sources of injury to newborns and children. It can stem from one or more of the following scenarios:
- Administering medications to the mother that may cause birth injuries.
- Giving the incorrect medication or dosage, including dispensing generics.
- Giving the wrong medication due to the inability to read the physician’s handwriting or otherwise failing to verify the prescription or dosage.
- Errors with anesthesia.
- The use of off-label medications.
Each of these situations merits further detailed discussion in order to help you determine if you and your child are entitled to financial damages.
Administration of Medications Dangerous to the Baby
A quick scan of virtually any label will tell you that most medications have side effects that patients should be aware of before taking the drug. For pregnant people, it is even more important to scrutinize anything going into your body to be sure that it will not have adverse effects on you or your baby. In particular, medications such as Zofran, Prozac, Depakote, Paxil and Accutane have been linked to birth defects and injuries. Possible consequences to the baby of taking these medications can include:
- Hearing difficulties.
- Brain damage.
- Heart damage.
- Cleft palate.
Incorrect Dosage Issues During Labor
A great deal is happening all at once for some women during certain stages of labor, sometimes leading to serious mistakes that can have long-term consequences. For example, a nurse may give a patient too much oxytocin in order to speed up labor. Another drug called Cytotec may be administered to ripen the cervix even though this particular medication is not approved by the FDA for this purpose and has been known to lead to birth injuries. Additionally, a drug might be given to a mother too close to the time of delivery.
Anesthesia is necessary in certain situations during labor and delivery. For instance, there are rare cases when a pregnant woman needs emergency surgery that requires anesthesia. Alternatively, these analgesic medications are given during a c-section or may be dispensed to the baby at birth in the event of a complication. In all cases, the doctor administering anesthesia should be extremely careful to give the correct amount as well s to monitor both the mother-to-be and the baby at all times to ensure that vital signs remain within normal range and stable.
Epidural medication is frequently administered to minimize the pain of labor. Even so, this popular treatment still represents risks to both mother and baby. These include:
- High fevers in the newborn.
- Long-term back problems for the mother.
- Severe headaches for the mother.
- Low blood pressure for the mother.
- Permanent nerve damage for the mother.
During labor and delivery, there may be several machines used to administer drugs to the mother and her baby. These may include equipment to give labor- and birth-related medications to the mother, while other devices might be employed for vaccinating the newborn. Problems with these devices can sometimes result in medications being administered at the wrong time or with the incorrect dosage. Because these machines are considered to be extensions of the medical providers who are caring for mother and child, physicians and nurses are responsible should something go wrong with the machinery that causes birth injuries or defects.
The labor and delivery process is complex and risky. Although some of the difficulties that can arise are no one’s fault, you have the right to expect that your medical team provides you and your baby with treatment that meets the approved standard of care. If you believe you and your child are victims of negligence due to the careless or improper administration of medications, you may be entitled to financial compensation. However, in order to get the justice you deserve, it is vital that you contact an attorney with expertise in birth injuries as soon as possible.