Oxytocin Use in Labor: Legal Implications

J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2018 Jan/Mar;32(1):34-42. doi: 10.1097/JPN.0000000000000300.


Oxytocin is one of the most commonly used medications in obstetrics and has been associated with claims of negligence in cases of adverse outcomes. Errors involving intravenous oxytocin administration for induction or augmentation of labor are most commonly dose related and include failure to avoid or treat tachysystole or failure to asses or treat a fetal heart rate pattern indicative of disruption in oxygenation. Clinicians should be knowledgeable regarding pharmacokinetics of oxytocin and the effect of uterine contractions on fetal oxygenation as well as safe titration of oxytocin to achieve the desired effect while minimizing harm.

MeSH terms

  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Female
  • Fetal Monitoring / methods
  • Humans
  • Labor, Induced* / methods
  • Labor, Induced* / nursing
  • Labor, Induced* / standards
  • Neonatal Nursing* / methods
  • Neonatal Nursing* / standards
  • Oxytocics / administration & dosage
  • Oxytocics / pharmacokinetics
  • Oxytocin* / administration & dosage
  • Oxytocin* / pharmacokinetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Standard of Care
  • Uterine Contraction* / drug effects
  • Uterine Contraction* / physiology
  • Uterine Monitoring / methods


  • Oxytocics
  • Oxytocin