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Off-label drugs and uterine tearing: Was your doctor to blame?

Pregnancy is typically a joyful and expectant time. Sure, there are unpleasant symptoms, like morning sickness and stretch marks, but most women still look forward to labor and delivery with growing excitement. For a small number of mothers, however, labor and delivery are where an otherwise healthy and perfect pregnancy can turn sour.

If a doctor decides to administer a particular drug for an unapproved purpose during labor, the potential health consequences are devastating. If the laboring mother-to-be has a bad reaction to the drug, it could prove fatal to her, her child or both.

You might imagine that drug that offers minimal medical benefit, is not approved for use in pregnant women and isn't approved by the Food and Drug Administration due to catastrophic uterine ruptures would never get used by a successful, educated doctor. You'd be wrong. Unfortunately for the women who react badly to this drug, many OB/GYN practitioners continue to administer the drug misoprostol to women during their labor. They do so with the full knowledge that the drug isn't supposed to get used in labor or by pregnant women. There's a warning printed on the label saying as much.

Dangerous drugs for a doctor's convenience

Some doctors who work as OB/GYNs do not have enough patience for the long, natural process that is human labor and delivery. As a result, many doctors may try to speed up the process. They do this not for any medical reason, but for their own convenience. They may want to leave at their scheduled end of shift. Maybe they have a golf time scheduled tomorrow morning, and they want their sleep.

Whatever the reason, some doctors will administer the drug misoprostol, whose brand name is Cytotec, in the hopes that it could soften the cervix and help speed up the onset of labor.

Most times, giving a woman in labor this drug causes no major. Occasionally, the woman will had a bad reaction, resulting in serious uterine tearing. Uterine tearing is dangerous. It can result in maternal death in a matter of minutes due to blood loss. It can result in the death of the unborn baby. Sometimes, both mother and child die. Some women survive, only to be told they can never carry a child again because of the damage caused by the drug.

The FDA specifically notes that the drug is not approved for pregnant women or use in labor, specifically because of the risk of tearing of the uterus. The minimal benefits simply do not offset the serious risk this drug poses to pregnant women and their unborn children. Those who have lost a spouse, child or potential for future children may want to consider medical malpractice claims against the doctor who administered this drug in an unapproved manner.

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