Seattle Pitocin Injury Lawyers
The Dangers of Using Pitocin/Oxytocin during Childbirth Are Real
Pitocin is a synthetic medication that's a variation of oxytocin, the hormone the body produces during childbirth to help it push the infant through the birth canal. During labor, Pitocin contracts the placenta, which in turn contracts the uterus, the same way oxytocin does during natural childbirth. However when labor needs to be induced, or when labor is taking too long, medical staff may administer Pitocin to move the process along more quickly. Situational awareness and reasonable prudence must be used by nurses administering and doctors prescribing this potentially dangerous drug.
While it's become fairly common practice, there are many dangers that accompany the use of Pitocin. If you or a loved one has recently given birth and Pitocin was used, and you believe the mother or infant were injured due to the drug, it's important to contact a Seattle birth injury attorney right away.
How Pitocin Works
When Pitocin or oxytocin is administered by healthcare professionals, or when it occurs naturally in the body, it works during childbirth by contracting the placenta. These contractions help move the baby through the birth canal, and the more Pitocin that's administered, the longer the contractions are, and the less time there is between them. During the contractions, blood and oxygen supplies are squeezed and temporarily cut off from the infant.
While the placenta is an enormously resilient organ, and can handle the typical contractions that come with childbirth with no harm to the mother or baby, large doses of Pitocin can mean the baby must go long periods of time without blood or oxygen. And when the baby is forced to go too long without proper oxygen, it can result in serious brain damage. The placenta also needs time to rest in between contractions, in order to rebuild the blood and oxygen supply. When an improper of dosage of Pitocin is given however, there can be less than one minute of rest time in between contractions, leaving the placenta and baby deprived of oxygen before becoming even more deprived.
The Risks of Pitocin
Healthcare professionals use Pitocin when they feel that a delivery is taking too long, but often it's simply impatience that causes them to administer it. In fact, Pitocin should only be used in the most urgent situations, and when the life of the baby or mother is in jeopardy.
This is because the risks of using Pitocin are many, and they far outweigh the benefits the drug brings. Pitocin is a very unpredictable drug that starts to work very slowly. In one mother the drug can have little to no effect on the uterus, while in others the drug might cause excessive and aggressive contractions. But because there's no way to tell what effect the drug is having, and because it starts slowly to begin with, it's easy for healthcare professionals to administer too much of the drug, because they think it's not working.
Common Birth Injuries Caused by Pitocin
When the oxygen and blood levels of the placenta drop, the baby is deprived of both, which can have devastating consequences. Brain damage is one of the main concerns but other birth injuries caused by Pitocin are:
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
- Fetal distress
- Increased blood pressure
- Slow or stopped heart rate
- Increased heart rate
- Heartbeat arrhythmia
- Asphyxia, when the infant is severely deprived of oxygen
- High acid levels in the blood
- Cerebral palsy
- Low Apgar scores, the test doctors use to assess a baby's health immediately following birth
- Arterial blood gas analysis (determining metabolic acidosis)
- Hemorrhages in the retinas
- Need for Neonatal Resuscitation
- Neonatal Intensive Care
When any of these birth injuries are present immediately following a new birth, especially when Pitocin was used, it's important new parents contact a personal injury attorney in Seattle.
Maternal Injuries Caused by Pitocin
In addition to having serious consequences for the infant, mothers that are given Pitocin can be at risk at all. Some of the most common maternal complications that result from Pitocin are:
- Very strong uterine contractions, that last for a very long time
- Ruptured uterus
- Excessive hemorrhaging after delivery
- Electrolyte imbalance, which can cause brain damage
- Brain hemorrhage
- Heart arrhythmia
- Damaged blood flow to the uterus
- Low blood pressure
- High blood pressure
- Anaphylaxis shock
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hematoma of the pelvis, when blood gathers in the soft tissues
Unless there is an emergency situation in which the mother and/or baby are in serious distress, there is no reason to administer Pitocin in delivery rooms; and more and more experts are advising against it. If you or your child has been injured due to a dosage of Pitocin that was given, contact an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. today. You can call us toll-free at (888) 228-3860 to speak with one of our live agents. You rely on doctors to provide the very best care and when they don't, you may be entitled to compensation.