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Birth Injury Case Alleges Negligence Caused Fetal Brain Damage

pregnant woman

The drug known as Pitocin is a powerful labor-inducing synthetic hormone delivered intravenously to women needing to jumpstart contractions and dilatation. Known also as oxytocin, the drug acts as a uterine stimulant and works to initiate or enhance contractions by increasing the intercellular use of calcium ions.

Pitocin is often used to hurry labor along, or to start labor in women who are either past their due date or experiencing complications with a full-term pregnancy. However, the drug is not without side effects, and has been tied to birth injuries in newborns – as is supported by recent allegations against a Georgia hospital and obstetrician.

Pitocin birth injury lawsuit allegations

In the birth injury lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, a young mother has alleged serious contentions against her obstetrician, treating medical practice, and the hospital wherein she gave birth. In the complaint, which was filed on December 11, 2014, the plaintiff asserts that her pregnancy and childbirth should have been monitored much more closely in order to prevent the resulting brain damage that will likely impact her child for the rest of his life.

The plaintiff concedes that she is a heavy smoker, and asserts that fetuses exposed to the use of cigarettes often experience low birth weight and respiratory problems prior to and during gestation and labor. The plaintiff’s allegations begin in her 34th week of pregnancy following the discovery that the fetus was lagging in gestational size – at which point she should have been referred to a Perinatologist for further evaluation. From there, the plaintiff alleges that her obstetrician not only failed to offer a referral to a specialist, but also failed to order a non-stress test on the mother and fetus which would have revealed the presence of problems with the developing baby.

Timeline of the plaintiff’s experience

With one day left before the plaintiff’s 40th week of pregnancy, her doctor opted to induce labor using the Pitocin drip described above. During the uterine contractions that occur with the use of Pitocin, life-sustaining oxygen – which transfers from the placenta to the baby via the umbilical cord – decreases for brief intervals. As a result of the introduction of Pitocin in the plaintiff’s childbirth process, she alleges that she experienced a hyperstimulation of the uterus, leading to an excessive and atypical number of uterine contractions. This, coupled with the alleged failure by hospital nursing staff to properly observe the fetal heart rate monitor, lead to the delivery of a baby with an extremely low APGAR score and evidence of brain damage – known specifically as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

According to the plaintiff’s complaint, her child may have experienced a typical, non-threatening birth experience but for the negligence of doctors and nurses during her prenatal period and childbirth. More specifically, the team allegedly failed to meet pre-determined standards of care within the childbirth and obstetric area of medicine, and those failures directly caused pitocin-related birth injuries.

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