More than 40 patients come forward after allegations N.B. nurse used labour drug
MONCTON, N.B. -- More than 40 patients have come forward since a Moncton nurse was accused of inappropriately administering a labour-inducing drug to pregnant women, a New Brunswick health authority says.
Horizon Health spokeswoman Emely Poitras acknowledged the allegations, which have resulted in a criminal investigation, have upset many families.
But she insisted patients should not be alarmed.
"The actions of one individual do not define the level of safe and quality care we provide," Poitras said in a statement.
"Because of this, patients and their families should not have any concerns about the care they receive at the labour and delivery unit at the Moncton Hospital or any of our Horizon facilities."
The health authority is encouraging patients to call a toll-free number if they have concerns.
Poitras said 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 unidentified 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, has said the pregnant women required emergency intervention -- but he confirmed the mothers and their babies were not harmed.
Neither the hospital nor the health authority responded to requests for interviews Tuesday.
The New Brunswick Nurses Union issued a statement Monday saying allegations of potential harm to patients always raise concerns.
However, the union made it clear it is obliged to offer legal assistance when a member is fired and requests legal representation before the Nurses Association of New Brunswick -- the provincial governing body that oversees the nursing profession.
However, union president Paula Doucet has said the union wouldn't represent the nurse if the criminal investigation yields charges.
The union and the association could not be reached for comment.
The RCMP have confirmed they are investigating the case, but have declined further comment.
Oxytocin causes contractions of the uterus and speeds up labour. However, the naturally occurring hormone can, among other things, affect fetal heart rate and make labour progress too quickly.
Some research has suggested the drug can cause the uterus to tear, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
The health authority operates the Moncton Hospital and 11 others, along with more than 100 medical facilities and clinics in New Brunswick.