New Brunswick

Moncton nurse accused of misuse of labour-inducing drug sees licence suspended

An obstetrics nurse who was fired from the Moncton Hospital and is being investigated by the RCMP over allegations she administered a labour-inducing drug to two women without consent has also had her licence suspended indefinitely.

Nurses association cites seriousness of allegations against fired nurse now under criminal investigation

The Nurses Association declined to reveal the name of the second facility where the Moncton Hospital nurse had been working. (CBC)

An obstetrics nurse who was fired from the Moncton Hospital and is being investigated by the RCMP over allegations she administered a labour-inducing drug to two women without consent has also had her licence suspended indefinitely.

The New Brunswick Nurses Association suspended the registered nurse's licence immediately because of the seriousness of the allegations and because she was working at a second facility, executive director Laurie Janes said Monday, declining to disclose which facility.

Normally, the professional regulatory body has a committee review a case before it takes any action. But that process can take months and the association felt it was in the public's best interest to act quickly, said Janes.

The nurse can appeal the suspension, she said, but the association will await the outcome of the criminal investigation.

Meanwhile, the New Brunswick Nurses Union is "very concerned" about the allegations, but it's a "very delicate subject," said president Paula Doucet.

The union is obligated to provide legal assistance to the nurse in connection with being fired but does not represent members in criminal matters, she said during a news conference in Fredericton on Monday afternoon.

"Where this is currently an investigation being handled by the RCMP, we will not be commenting any further," said Doucet, reading from a prepared statement and declining to answer any questions.

The Horizon Health Network, RCMP and Vitalité Health Network all declined interviews Monday.

Paula Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, held a brief news conference on Monday. (CBC)

Horizon officials confirmed Saturday they fired a labour and delivery nurse at the Moncton Hospital after an internal investigation revealed "strong evidence" the nurse administered Oxytocin, which caused two patients to require an urgent caesarean section.

Oxytocin is a drug that causes contractions and is used to induce labour, speed up labour and stop bleeding after labour. If it's not administered properly, contractions can become too strong.

The RCMP launched an investigation at the request of Horizon Health. No arrest has been made.

Doucet said the union was advised last week that one of its members at the Moncton Hospital was terminated.

An internal investigation identified only two affected patients, Horizon Health Network officials have said. RCMP are now investigating. (CBC)

"Any time there are allegations of potential harm to patients or compromise to patient safety we are very concerned and empathetic for all those involved — the patients, the families, the staff," she said.

The health authority has apologized to the affected patients and their families. The mothers and babies are doing well, officials have said.

"Our investigation at this point has identified these two patients and these two patients alone," Ken Gillespie, an obstetrician and chief of staff of Moncton Hospital, said earlier.

'Shocking'

But a medical malpractice lawyer told CBC News he has received a steady stream of calls from women since the allegations came to light.

"The allegations are shocking. I've never heard anything like this," said John McKiggan, who is based in Halifax.

Melissa Lavoie, who is pregnant with twins and receiving care at the Moncton Hospital, is concerned.

"It's shocking to know that someone out there is able to do this, especially someone in the health-care industry," she has said.

Patients can call Horizon

Stephanie MacKinnon, who gave birth to her son via C-section at the hospital in December 2018, said the investigation makes her wonder about her experience. Her son was several weeks premature, weighing only 2.1 pounds.

Patients who have questions about their care should contact Horizon, Gillespie has said.

Hospital staff were informed of the situation last Wednesday.

In addition to the Moncton Hospital, Horizon operates 11 other hospitals and more than 100 medical facilities, clinics and offices.

With files from Gabrielle Fahmy