More Than 40 Patients Come Forward After Allegations Nurse Used Labour Drug

April 4, 2019 Updated: April 4, 2019

MONCTON—A New Brunswick health authority says more than 40 patients have come forward since a Moncton nurse was accused of inappropriately administered a labour-inducing drug to pregnant women.

Horizon Health spokeswoman Emely Poitras issued a statement today saying the allegations, which have resulted in a criminal investigation, have upset many families.

The health authority is encouraging patients to call a toll-free number if they have concerns.

Poitras says Horizon Health will arrange for a member of its obstetrics team to answer questions.

A spokesman for the Moncton Hospital confirmed on the weekend that the registered nurse had been fired after at least two pregnant women were allegedly given the drug oxytocin inappropriately.

Dr. Ken Gillespie, the hospital’s chief of staff, said the pregnant women required emergency intervention—but he confirmed the mothers and their babies were not harmed.

A woman who gave birth through an emergency C-section at the Moncton Hospital believes she might be among the victims of…

Posted by CTV News on Tuesday, April 2, 2019

“While in the labour and delivery unit, the administration of oxytocin caused both of these mothers to require urgent C-sections,” Gillespie said.

“The staff and physicians responded immediately to this need.”

Gillespie said the hospital launched an internal investigation, culminating in the dismissal of the nurse and notification of the RCMP.

He also said both patients and their families were notified, and the mothers and babies were doing well.

Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone that causes contractions of the uterus, speeds up labour and can help control post-delivery bleeding. Its usage, however, requires close monitoring because it can, among other things, affect the fetal heart rate.

“Labour can progress too quickly, causing contractions to become difficult to manage without pain medication,” according to the American Pregnancy Association. “Oxytocin may need to be discontinued if contractions become too powerful and close together.”

Other research indicates the drug can cause the uterus to tear, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Gillespie called the situation worrisome and apologized on behalf of the Horizon Health Network.

Officials have said the two pregnant women who received oxytocin required emergency intervention after receiving the drug.

Posted by Global New Brunswick on Monday, April 1, 2019

The health authority operates the Moncton Hospital and 11 others, along with more than 100 medical facilities and clinics in New Brunswick.

“It is not a situation a new parent wants to experience,” Gillespie said. “Our goal is to always provide safe and quality care to all of our patients and their families (and) it is for this reason this incident is so troubling to all of our staff.”

In light of the ongoing RCMP probe, the hospital said it would provide no further information about the nurse, whose alleged actions have been reported to regulators.

“We felt it was important to disclose this information,” Gillespie said. “(But) we do not want to compromise the investigation.”