Medication can have a profound impact on the health of a developing infant, so women must be cautious about the drugs they take during pregnancy. However, even the most careful of mothers may learn that her child has a birth defect because of the negligence of a doctor, pharmacist or drug manufacturer.
We've assembled some information about prescriptions below to help you understand how and when errors occur. If your baby has been injured by a medication error, contact us to set up a free consultation with one of our Ohio attorneys.
Drug Safety During Pregnancy And Pregnancy Risk Categories
If you are trying to become pregnant or just became pregnant, it's important for you to promptly contact all physicians prescribing you medication. Some medications pose a serious health risk to you or your baby. To help pregnant mothers better understand the risks involved with prescription medications, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created five risk categories for the safety of prescription drugs during pregnancy:
- Category A: Controlled studies in pregnant women fail to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester with no evidence of risk in later trimesters.
- Category B: Presumed safety based on animal studies, with no controlled studies in pregnant women, or animal studies have shown an adverse effect that was not confirmed in controlled studies in women in the first trimester and there is no evidence of a risk in later trimesters.
- Category C: Studies in women and animals are not available or studies in animals have revealed adverse effects on the fetus and there are no controlled studies in women. Drugs should be given only if the potential benefits outweigh the potential risk to the fetus.
- Category D: There is positive evidence of a human fetal risk. In some cases, such as a life-threatening illness, the potential risk may be justified if there aren't safer alternatives.
- Category X: Highly unsafe. The risk to the fetus outweighs any potential benefit.
Pregnant women should discuss the safety of all drugs - even over-the-counter drugs - with a pharmacist or physician. Ensure that your doctor and pharmacist know that you're pregnant before taking any medications, regardless of what category they fall in.
A prescription is composed of four sections:
- Superscription: The heading where the symbol "R" or "RX" appears
- Inscription: The area containing the name and quantity of the medication
- Subscription: Directions for compounding or mixing the drug
- Signature: The area usually preceded by an "S" symbol. It provides directions to be printed on the drug bottle, vial or container.
Pharmacists and nurses often complain about doctors' handwriting, and with good reason: A sloppily written prescription can cause serious injury or death to the pregnant patient or her unborn child.
It is never a patient's job to decipher her doctor's chicken-scratch writing on a prescription, but we've listed some of the common prescription notations and abbreviations below. We've also listed the Latin term the abbreviations stand for, in case you have a physician who attempts to showcase his or her Latin skills.
- a.c.: "ante cibum," before meals
- ad lib: "ad libitum," use as much as one desires
- b.i.d.: "bis in die," twice a day
- da or daw: dispense as written
- gtt: "guttae," drops
- pc: "post cibum," after meals
- p.o.: "per os," by mouth, or orally
- p.r.n.: "pro re nata," when necessary, or as circumstances require
- q.d.: "quaque die," once a day
- q.i.d.: "quarter in die," four times a day
- q.h.: "quaque (hours)," medication to be taken every __ hours. For example, q.4h. means every four hours.
- t.i.d.: "ter in die," three times a day
- ut dict.: "ut dictum," as directed
We hope that this pregnancy-oriented drug page is helpful. If you'd like to discuss a birth defect or medication error with one of our Ohio birth injury lawyers, call the Donahey Law Firm at 866-918-5886 or contact us online.