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Family Awarded $14.5 Million for Cerebral Palsy Linked to Pitocin Delivery Drug

A Pennsylvania court recently awarded $14.5 million to the Ohio parents of a young boy afflicted with the severe birth injury cerebral palsy, after evidence linked his condition to a hospital staff’s improper use of a popular drug used to speed up delivery times.

The drug, Pitocin, is used in nearly every hospital in the United States. And, as the Cerebral Palsy Center at DrugNews has learned, this is just the latest instance linking the drug to complications or cerebral palsy in infants.

 

What is Pitocin?

Pitocin has been used for decades to aid in natural childbirth as it creates stronger and longer lasting contractions. However, as hospitals and doctors face busier schedules and more risks, they have increasingly used it to speed up the delivery process.

The drug is the brand name for oxytocin, an artificially-created version of a natural hormone that the body uses to balance contractions of the uterus. It is manufactured by JHP Pharmaceuticals, a small private company headquartered in New Jersey.

 

What are the dangers of Pitocin?

Pitocin or oxytocin itself doesn’t appear to bear any risks. However, it can have effects on both the mother and infant if it is administered at improper doses or based on its effects to the childbirth process.

Studies in recent years have linked improper doses of Pitocin to higher risks of certain adverse effects including:

  • Infant oxygen deprivation
  • NICU admission
  • postpartum depression
  • infant brain damage
  • autism
  • lower Apgar scores.

According to a 2013 study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the use of Pitocin to influence labor of fully developed infants has higher adverse effect risks than previously thought.

Another recent survey found that more than 25% of women had been given some type of drug or procedure to speed up the birth process during delivery, with a quarter of them also saying they felt pressure from their doctor to do so.

Again, the increasing use of Pitocin in hospitals around the country only increases the chances of its misuse and risk to infants.

 

Cerebral Palsy linked to Pitocin Use

In the present case, the parents of a 4 year-old boy claimed that improper Pitocin use during his birth led to his severe cerebral palsy.

When Nicole Welker was admitted to Penn Highlands’ Clearfield Hospital for delivery of her baby boy in 2012, she was given Pitocin to speed up the birth process. However, the dosage she received caused her contractions to increase significantly, which partially cut off oxygen to her son’s brain.

Her son is now severely disabled with cerebral palsy and is unable to sit up, walk or talk like most children his age. He will face a lifetime of treatment and therapy.

Welker and her family filed a cerebral palsy lawsuit (link to CP lawsuit page) against doctors and the hospital for the misuse of the delivery drug in order to get help with her son’s care and future therapy.

A jury in a Pennsylvania federal court agreed that the hospital was at fault and awarded the family a total of $14.5 million. $11.5 million was allotted for his future medical care and $3 million was awarded for his pain and suffering.

 

Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits for Medical Mistakes

Cerebral palsy is the number one cause of childhood disability and occurs in around 1 out of every 1,000 births. Sadly, in around 10 percent of cases, it is due to mistakes by medical staff that could have been avoided, such as improper Pitocin dosage.

While doctors and staff work tirelessly to protect the health of mothers and infants, they can make mistakes that can cause a lifetime of suffering. It is for these reasons that they are required to maintain insurance for medical mistakes to compensate those injured.

In those situations where a doctor or hospital worker deviates from the normal and reasonable standard of care during the delivery process, and the baby is injured as a result, those affected are entitled to seek compensation.

Often, families with children affected by cerebral palsy don’t even know the cause, or whether something went wrong during the delivery process. It is for that reason that they should have a legal professional review their case at no cost.

A recent estimate of medical and life costs for a child with cerebral palsy placed the expense of raising a child with CP at between $1 million and $2 million. And, that amount doesn’t account for extreme circumstances or damages for pain and suffering.

As a result, the compensation for families dealing with cerebral palsy can be significant and much needed.

If you or a loved one were affected by cerebral palsy, contact DrugNews today for more information, or to speak directly with a lawyer about your legal options. It costs nothing to file a claim unless you receive an award, and the compensation can make a lifetime of difference in your child’s care.

 

Sources:

AP. Jury awards $14.5 million verdict in cerebral palsy birth. The Seattle Times. (January 2017). Retrieved from www.seattletimes.com

Tsimis, M, et al. ACOG. (May 2013). Retrieved from www.babycenter.com

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