There is an assumption that medications approved for administration under certain circumstances are generally safe for patients. Physicians can also prescribe them off-label to people in other scenarios. For example, certain diabetes medications get prescribed off-label as a way to help someone lose weight.
Off-label prescribing is common and not automatically an act of medical malpractice. However, one popular form of off-label drug administration during labor and delivery could constitute medical malpractice because of the known risks.
Doctors may use a very dangerous drug
There are a variety of medications approved to strengthen contractions or speed up cervical effacement and dilation during labor. Positions should rely on those medications rather than turning to a different drug with catastrophic risks.
Frustratingly, a small but concerning number of positions still administer the drug Cytotec (generic name misoprostol) to women during labor. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the medication for use to treat ulcers. However, the drug specifically bears a warning that it can cause uterine rupture in pregnant women.
Despite this warning label, some doctors use the medication anyway because they assume that nothing will go wrong because nothing ever has gone wrong when they have used the drug before. Uterine rupture can cause the death of a child or the expectant mother. It can also lead to future infertility and a host of other medical challenges.
Scenarios in which a doctor very clearly deviated from best practices may give people grounds to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. Learning more about best practices can help people identify when doctors are in violation of them.