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Hospital nurse fired after women given inappropriate drug to induce labour

Last Updated Mar 30, 2019 at 2:48 pm EDT

The Moncton Hospital in New Brunswick. GOOGLE MAPS

A registered nurse has been fired and is now the subject of a criminal investigation after at least two pregnant women were allegedly given a labour-inducing drug inappropriately, a hospital in Moncton, N.B., said on Saturday.

In a statement, Dr. Ken Gillespie, chief of staff at the Moncton Hospital, said the pregnant women required emergency intervention after receiving the drug.

“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 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.

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.”

RCMP did not immediately respond Saturday to a request for comment.

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