Birth Injuries - Medication Errors

Whenever you take a medication, the drug has an impact on your body and health. If you are pregnant, the drug affects your baby as well. That’s why doctors and other healthcare providers must use extreme care in prescribing and administering medication to women during pregnancy.

When medication errors occur, both the mother and baby could suffer serious complications, including birth injury or death. The healthcare provider or physician who made the mistake can also be found liable for medical malpractice and be required to pay compensation to devastated families. If you believe you are a victim of medication errors that have caused a birth injury, contact a Chicago birth injury lawyer right away to protect your rights and learn about your legal options.

When Do Medication Errors Occur?

Medication errors are a common problem in the U.S. In fact, American Nurse Today estimates that approximately 1.5 million Americans are injured each year by preventable medication errors. Pregnant women are among the Americans who suffer injury. These women may experience medication errors when:

  • A doctor prescribes drugs during pregnancy that are dangerous to the baby.
  • A doctor prescribes the wrong dose of medication during pregnancy.
  • A woman is improperly administered medications during labor.

In many cases, medication errors are caused by physician negligence or by a failure of a physician or healthcare provider to exercise reasonable competence in prescribing or administering medication.

Types of Medication Errors that Could Harm a Fetus

A variety of different types of medication errors can impact a pregnant mother or her fetus. For example, some of the possible errors include:

  • Administering medication that may be dangerous to a baby or which cause birth defects – Many medications are not tested on pregnant women or are unsafe for infants in the womb. For example, antidepressants such as Paxil and Prozac may be linked to birth injuries, including:
    • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)
    • Seizures
    • Heart and brain damage
    • Hearing problems.

    Other potentially dangerous drugs for a fetus include certain antibiotics, anti-cancer medications, the acne medication Accutane and the anti-seizure medications Topomax and Depakote.

  • Administering a “sound-alike” drug instead of the correct drug – There are more than 1,000 drugs that have similar names but which have very different effects.In 2009, for example, one woman lost her twin babies and another delivered a severely brain-damaged child when a hospital mistakenly gave them a drug called Prostin instead of a progesterone suppository. (Prostin is a powerful medication used to force a miscarried fetus out of the womb.)
  • Administering an incorrect drug due to an inability to read a doctor’s handwriting – Only around 12 percent of hospitals have a computerized system for doctors to enter prescriptions or order medications.  When a doctor handwrites a prescription or a medication order, tragic mistakes can result if the order is misread.
  • Off-label use of drugs – Doctors routinely use medications for a different purpose than that which was originally approved. For example, a drug called Cytotec was approved to treat ulcers and contained a warning that it could cause early abortions. However, many doctors believed Cytotec was more effective at ripening the cervix for labor than Pitocin. Unfortunately, many doctors now prescribe the drug to induce childbirth, despite the fact that it may present risks of:
    • Uterine hyperstimulation
    • Uterine rupture
    • Embolism of the amniotic fluid
    • Premature birth
    • Death.  
  • Anesthesia errors – Epidurals are often administered to pregnant women to cut the pain of a pregnancy. The wrong dose or a needle that is inserted into the wrong place in the spine can have a devastating impact on mother and baby.

Also, when doctors administer the commonly-used labor drug Pitocin, doctors must carefully monitor a patient due to the risks of uterine hyperstimulation, uterine rupture and fetal distress.

Medication Errors and Malpractice

When a doctor or hospital causes a birth injury or injures a mother by making a medication error, the doctor or hospital may be considered negligent. Negligence is determined by whether a hypothetical reasonable care provider would have done better. If a doctor or hospital is negligent, they can be sued in a birth injury lawsuit and made to compensate the family for the harm their negligence caused.

Contact a Chicago Medication Error / Birth Injury Lawyer Today

If you or your baby was injured by a medication error, you should consult with an experienced Chicago birth injury lawyer as soon as possible.

At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we have represented many clients facing birth injuries. We can use our legal experience with birth injury cases to represent you if you or your child was injured by a medication error.

To learn how our Chicago medication error attorneys can help, call us today toll free or fill out our online contact form. We can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You will not pay for our legal services unless we obtain compensation for you and your family.