Concerned mothers gathered in Moncton, N.B., Tuesday to voice concerns over their labour and deliveries at Horizon Health Network – the operator of the hospital at the centre of a class-action lawsuit alleging a nurse improperly drugged women to force risky emergency C-sections.
“We’re all waiting here, waiting for answers,” said mom Caitlin Middleton to CTV News Atlantic. “That’s so hard, that’s why we should come together and share our stories.”
Middleton is one of several mothers who believe their traumatic births were the result of improper use of the drug Oxytocin.
Nicole Ruest, a former nurse at the hospital who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit alongside Horizon Health Network, is accused of secretly administering the drug Oxytocin to pregnant women without their doctors’ knowledge by puncturing their IV bags and spiking the contents.
Oxytocin is often given to women to induce labour, but should be carefully monitored as it can cause rapid contractions and affect the fetal heart rate if not administered properly.
RCMP are investigating two cases, but a spokesperson for Horizon Health Network said in April that they had received inquiries from 40 more women about their treatment at the hospital.
CTV News has learned that nearly two months after Ruest was fired, the number of emergency C-sections at the Moncton hospital have dropped down to levels recorded prior to 2015.
Ruest was seen on surveillance video disposing of IV bags that revealed puncture marks and tested positive for traces of Oxytocin.
Ruest was employed by the health network for over a decade, across multiple facilities, meaning the potential number of plaintiffs could be in the hundreds – but the hospital has only contacted two.
“I think that’s a failure,” says class action lawyer John McKiggan, who was present at the mothers’ meeting to update them on the lawsuit. “I don’t think [the hospital] met their legal duty to advise these mothers of a potential medical error or medical mistake that could have impacted the health of the mom or the baby.”
A few couples at the meeting learned that their babies had to be resuscitated only after demanding their medical records.
“There’s no ownership and there’s no information, and there’s no support. You have to actively and aggressively go get the information. That’s what the bigger problem is,” said Sally Davis, another concerned mother at the meeting.
The RCMP has not laid any charges and none of the allegations against Ruest or the Health Horizon Network have been tested in court.