Excessive Pitocin & Pitocin Overdose

Pitocin is the brand name for oxytocin, which is a natural hormone that causes the uterus to contract. Pitocin can be used to induce labor or to strengthen contractions in order to move along a labor that has failed to progress. However, in high or incorrect doses, Pitocin can be dangerous to both the mother and baby. In 2007, the Institute for the Safety of Medical Practice warned that use of oxytocin “requires great caution.”1 Even the label states that Pitocin should only be administered intravenously and any patient receiving Pitocin must be under continuous observation by trained personnel “who have a thorough knowledge of the drug.”2 If the mother is hypersensitive to oxytocin or if too high of a dosage is administered it can cause hypertonic contractions which can be dangerous for the baby. These contractions can either last longer than a normal contraction or occur more frequently than normal contractions. Since blood flow to the placenta stops or slows down during contractions, contractions that last too long or are too frequent can deprive the baby of oxygen for too long of a time period and put the health of the baby in jeopardy.

Causes of Pitocin Overdose

Pitocin is a dangerous drug even when it is administered under the best of circumstances. When it is administered incorrectly it can have deadly effects. Patients receiving Pitocin should be closely monitored by medical professionals who have been trained properly and are aware of all the risks associated with the drug. If there is any sign of uterine hyperactivity or fetal distress, use of Pitocin should be stopped immediately. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that hospitals should have written protocols for administering oxytocin including having a physician capable of performing a cesarean delivery “readily available” should complications arise.3 The onus is on the medical staff to make sure Pitocin use is safe for both the mother and baby and continues to be so throughout the labor and delivery.


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Birth Injuries Caused by Excessive Pitocin

If too much Pitocin is administered or speeds up and intensifies uterine contractions too quickly, it could deprive the baby of oxygen. Excessive use of Pitocin during childbirth may result in any of the following complications:

  • Low Apgar score
  • Neonatal seizure
  • Fetal hypoxia
  • Permanent central nervous system or brain damage
  • Abnormal heart rate and other arrhythmias
  • Fetal Death

Are You Eligible for a Birth Injury Lawsuit?

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Source List
1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4982443/
2 https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/018261s031lbl.pdf
3 http://www.circulomedicodezarate.org/e-books/Guidelines_for_Perinatal_Care.pdf