Canadian Fire Department Sued Over Invasive Cervix Examination

A Canadian woman is suing the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Department and the Halifax Regional Municipality claiming that firefighters conducted an “invasive examination” of her cervix last year when she was pregnant.

The action filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax alleges that three firefighters came to the woman’s residence on June 7, 2014 to check her blood pressure. The firefighters pressured the woman, identified only as NK, to consent to an examination of her cervix. At the time, NK was eight months pregnant.

According to the suit “Assuming that this was standard protocol, although concerned about the examination, the plaintiff eventually permitted two of the firefighters to carry out the examination.”

One of the firefighters, identified in the suit as Nola Heinz, “used the same gloves to carry out the examination of N.K. that she wore into N.K.’s home upon entering the home.” The firefighters concluded that NK was 3 cm dilated and going into labor. A paramedic ambulance was subsequently called and transported NK. At the hospital, doctors concluded that NK was not dilated and was not in labor. NK claims that both paramedics and doctors told her what the firefighters did was contrary to policy and inappropriate.

The suit alleges assault, battery, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. Among the allegations – “The defendant firefighters did not use antiseptic lubricant on the glove prior to the invasive examination on N.K.’s cervix.”

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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