Person arrested and questioned in case of premature births at N.B. hospital

MONCTON, N.B. — RCMP in New Brunswick say one person has been arrested in connection with allegations that patients at the Moncton Hospital were improperly given a labour-inducing drug earlier this year.

Codiac RCMP Sgt. Mathieu Roy says the suspect was arrested on Monday, questioned, and released with a promise to appear in court next May.

Roy says no charge has been laid, and no details about the suspect's identity will be released at this time. 

In April, a proposed class-action lawsuit was launched against the Horizon Health Network and an obstetrics nurse by women who believe the nurse improperly gave them the labour-inducing drug oxytocin.

The women are claiming that the Moncton Hospital either knew or should have known the registered nurse allegedly added the drug to intravenous saline bags hooked up to pregnant women.

The lawsuit — which has not been tested in court — argues that the health authority could have done more to prevent the drug from being administered.

John McKiggan, a Halifax-based medical malpractice lawyer, said the women he's interviewed for the case have told him of harm resulting from induced labours including emotional distress and concerns that their children may have been delivered prematurely.

The proposed action is seeking a full apology and a system for compensation for the harm caused.

McKiggan said there have been several dozen women in touch with his office and the Moncton law firm Fidelis, with one report going back a decade at the Moncton Hospital.

The nurse named in the lawsuit is Nicole Ruest of Moncton. She could not be reached for comment.

The statement of claim says Ruest was employed by the health authority for more than 15 years, and lawyers said during a news conference that she'd worked at other locations prior to the Moncton Hospital.

It says oxytocin was being administered without the knowledge or consent of mothers, and that "the hospital was aware that it performed an unusually high number of emergency C-section and instrument-assisted deliveries.''

Some research has suggested oxytocin can cause the uterus to tear, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2019.

The Canadian Press