Worst-first thinking is sometimes hard to distinguish from “sensible precautions.” I guess it makes sense to make sure that kids are not born with dangerous drugs in their systems, but it also seems to assume that all moms-to-be are drug addicts unless proven otherwise. And does this test extend to other substances, too, like nicotine or marijuana? Who decides when a mom is “good enough” to raise her child? (And who is “good enough” to replace her?) Big questions. Anyway, here’s nksfnzafrr
what happened to one Â mama named Maggie Downs:
Itâ€™s the birth of my first child, and Iâ€™m seven, maybe eight hours into labor. Whatever time it is, Iâ€™m well past the point of caring about modesty, so I donâ€™t even think itâ€™s strange when a nurse follows me into the bathroom.
â€œJust so you know, youâ€™ve tested positiveâ€¦â€ The nurse pauses there, and shifts her eyes to the floor. My anxiety fills the silence. I expect sheâ€™s going to say something about the whirring machines that have been measuring the babyâ€™s heartbeat, my contractions, my blood pressure, any of those things.
Relief floods me, and I explode with laughter. Meth? I didnâ€™t even take Tylenol during my pregnancy.
Well, that giddy relief does not last long when a second test comes back positive.
The nurse ticks off a list of everything thatâ€™s about to happen: The baby will be tested for drugs. The hospital social worker will meet with me before I can be discharged. Child Protective Services will be contacted to evaluate my fitness as a parent.
â€œAnd of course, you cannot breastfeed the baby,â€ the nurse finishes.
I rip the oxygen mask away. This isnâ€™t a joke anymore.
Of course, now that she’s officially a druggie, the system stonewalls her — even after she and her husband figure out the real culprit: Her inhaler. They quickly find news stories about the false positives Albuterol produces in meth tests.
No dice, even as they beg to be trusted.
I realize how much we sound like the prisoners who argue their innocence or patients in a mental institution who say theyâ€™re not crazy. The more I insist Iâ€™m not on drugs, the more I sound like I am.
â€œYou can take this up with CPS,â€ a stone-faced nurse says.
Eventually the baby is born via C-section, which means the mom remains at the hospital a few days.
Every shift change, two nurses stand by my bed and inform another two nurses of my status as a combative patient. â€œThis woman tested positive for methamphetamine,â€ they say. â€œShe has been briefed on the risks associated with breastfeeding, and she refused our advice. She is breastfeeding at her own risk.â€
You can read the rest of the saga here. The reason I am posting this story is that any of us can get mixed up with CPS. It’s not an everyday thing. But I have heard from several families who took their kids to the hospital for bruises or broken bones only to end up scrutinized as child beaters.
And let’s not forget the thousand or so parents currently in prison for “shaking” their babies to death — a crime that might not even exist. (This powerful documentary explains how a constellation of symptoms that was declared to ONLY indicate a shaken baby in reality can be the result of many different issues, including congenital defects and simple, natural falls. The doctors who run the shaken baby center and testify for the prosecution tried to get the movie barred from film festivals.)
As always, I plea for society and its institutions to start from a place of trust — innocent till proven guilty, loving until proven hateful — rather than automatic distrust and disdain. Â – L
Something very similar happened to me with the birth of my second child. I’d gone into labor a little early well away from my designated hospital. I went into the emergency room and proceeded to give them all of the information requested. They looked me up and down and decided they needed to have me especially evaluated because I seemed to be too small to be at full-term (procedures to go into place until they could reach my regular doctor).
They did a urine test and gave me magnesium sulfate to slow down my labor because if I was as early as they thought I was then they did not have the capability to take care of such a premature infant. Once they got the portable ultrasound results back that confirmed what I’d been telling them — that my son was only two weeks early — they started making full-on delivery preparations. Between breaths I heard one nurse tell another nurse something about “testing positive for barbiturates”. I asked them if they were talking about me and she looked me dead in the eye and said “Yep. Barbiturates. Nice.”
At the time I had a 13 month old son. He was active and running around and I was nearly nine months pregnant. The LAST thing I needed was something to slow me down!!! I told them I wanted retested and they noted it on my record. I told them I’d submit to blood, urine or hair analysis to prove that I was not on any illegal drugs.
About an hour later my son was born, healthy and strong and full-term.
I had to meet the CPS, they had to investigate my home and I had to deal with them for a few weeks but I found out that my insistence that the medical staff do another drug test right then is what worked in my favor. Turns out we discovered the wax covering on the aspirin I took for the blinding headache I woke up with the morning that I went into labor is what triggered the false-positive result.
I feel your terror and your pain and your humiliation. It was the one of the worst experiences of my life.
This actually isn’t that out of the ordinary, unfortunately. Many, many people falsely test positive for drugs. In America, we like to think that it really is “innocent until proven guilty” but actually it is “guilty until proven innocent”-particularly when it comes to parenting children. The government and the large sum of helicopter parents out there are all too quick to jump into giving other parents advice and telling them how to raise their own children. I can only hope that the poor mother will (eventually) be able to take her newborn home and pretend that the whole ordeal never happened. She might have just ate a food with a high amount of some product in it. I’m actually surprised that there hasn’t been more posted on this site other than moms being arrested/detained for leaving their kids in a car or letting them walk alone and CPS (crappy policing service….lol!) being called because of it. After all, there are parents who actually put their kids on LEASHES (yes….LEASHES, if you don’t believe me, feel free to google it!) and put little stickers on them that actually say ‘if lost, please call ____’ like dogs. To me, that’s almost worse than a new mom being questioned because she tested positive for a dangerous drug. Not to mention this little site called commonsensemedia.org that dictates what is “age appropriate” for your child to watch or not, even if they’re 16/17 and can pretty much watch anything they want. Oh, and it also calls out Disney movies like Toy Story for being “too sexual for young children”. But now I’m just ranting. It scares me to death to think about how paranoid this world has become. At this rate, in 10 years, we might as well just childproof children themselves and keep them in a locked box until 18.
I freak out when my older son gets bug bites. Why? Because if he gets them anywhere, they swell up significantly. Guess what happens when he gets them on his face (like he woke up with this morning)? Yeah, his eyes are swollen and red (and, of course, itchy). I’ve hauled him to his pediatrician more than once so that it’s medically documented. Thankfully, our pediatrician is a sane person with kids of her own, and made sure there was no infection, and told us a few things that might help….but, unfortunately, time is the only real help. I wanted it documented so when some well-meaning teacher or parent decides to call CPS instead of, you know, talking to me, I have something to back it up.
There was another case that made the news a few years ago where the baby was removed from the home for 5 days because the mother’s breakfast poppyseed bagel made her test positive:
“Ever hear that consuming poppy seeds would cause a positive result on a drug test? Elizabeth Mort from Pennsylvania never thought twice about eating an “everything” bagel, poppy seeds included, before giving birth to her daughter, but maybe she should have. Her 3-day-old daughter was taken away from her in 2010 after officials thought Mort had consumed illegal drugs while pregnant. Because of her supposedly suspicious results, her baby was removed from her care for five days.”
I suppose once this woman’s baby comes back for meth, she will be given the benefit of the doubt (not). I wish this worst-first society would stop. I got expelled from my college because i knew ways to kill someone and dispose of a body (research for a book, entirely curiosity-based). I was joking, and the fact that i also have depression should have detered them from doing that (but they didnt think of that, and had i killed myself it would have been grounds for a lawsuit).
Also, @ Laurie, I have a kid leash for my youngest. He’s 22 months and is a known flight risk. He wants to be independent and screams and has a HUGE tantrum (involving kicking and sometimes biting, if he can get to me) if I put him in his stroller. But he also doesn’t want to hold hands when we walk. So, guess what, he has a kid leash because he has bolted before without it. His older brother wore it before him for the same reasons.
You talk about judging other parents. Well, that’s a judgement call and for my kids, putting a kid leash on them works/worked. It gives them independence without the risk of them bolting into the street, which has happened with both. Do I use it for things like the country fair? No. He sits in his stroller and gets over it. But short distances (like a walk to the park – 3/4 mile), he wears it.
“As always, I plea for society and its institutions to start from a place of trust â€” INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.” (emphasis mine)
I’ve said it time and time again, NOT in America when it comes to kids. Instead, it’s guilty until proven innocent and that goes for parents too.
Ooops. I meant comes back negative.
Guilty until proven innocent. They probably used one of those “kit tests”. Those things have a long history of false positives. The problem is that the Police and Probation Officers use them too.
Even laboratory blood tests have issues. A few years ago I was in the hospital for a knee injury that required major surgery. They drew blood for testing and a few hours later the Doctor came to me and said that he couldn’t do the surgery because I had high levels of Oxycodone in my blood and it would interfere with the anesthetic. I told him that he was full of it, so he shows me the test paperwork. The first thing I see is that the blood type is A positive. I tell him that isn’t my blood type. I’m O negative. I’m a “universal donor”. I can give blood to anybody, but I can only get O negative. I tell him that and pull out my wallet with my old Navy dog tag in it. Turns out that they mixed up the samples. I thought that it was funny at the time, but, after hearing this, it isn’t so funny any more.
Drug testing ought to be abolished except in cases with a real reason to check (a driver after a crash, parents of baby exhibiting withdrawal). Too many false positives and unfairly messing up good people’s lives- not just with CPS, but people unfairly being denied jobs.
As to the point about emergency rooms, we have a policy to never go to the emergency room for a non-life-threatening injury. When my toddler needed stitches, I called the pediatrician who sent me to his plastic surgeon friend who did the stitches right in his office. No ER with nurses and social workers asking 8 million times what exactly happened. When a different child broke an arm, same deal, called pediatrician who sent us to his orthopedist friend who saw my son right in the office and took care of him there. That time I was on bed rest, so my husband had to take him. I can only imagine what it would have been like in the ER, I hear they’re particularly nasty to dads, because why would a father possibly be the one seeking medical attention for his child…
Renee Anne, I am sorry if you felt I was judging you as a mother. That was not my intentions. Obviously you know what is best for your kids and what works and what doesn’t. Child leashes can be helpful on squirmy toddlers and special needs children but they are something that is often misused by a lot of parents. I do go to the county fairs and amusement parks often, and I do see parents that use them as a way to pretty much drag their child around, even if their child is as old as 5 or 6.
I wonder how many of these kids taken from innocent parents by CPS suffer needless trauma from their new “caregivers”, or even die in custody.
For comparison, when kennels are raided by “humane societies” and puppies are confiscated, on average about 30% of those puppies die in custody — from neglect while in custody.
Welcome to the Medical Police State. This is not rare. There’s even a web site called medicalkidnap.com. Avoid the health care system in this country unless absolutely necessary. Do not get any “preventive” treatment, including vaccines, if you value your health.
Those ignorant medical professionals did not know the facts because they were taught a tiny part of the truth and were not allowed to question the authorities. Ever. Under penalty of losing their jobs and being forever blackballed by the system.
This is true in all professions, all walks of life. We are like sheep. Or lemmings. When told to jump we ask how high. Or which cliff to jump off of.
My dad had something similar happen to him. Some druggie stole his meds so he ends needing more but is accused of being druggie himself. He had to go to rehab for the problem of being a druggie. I am surprised that they never seem to notice that he wasn’t experiencing druggie symptoms.
This is an extremely upsetting situation. The hospital is another zone where people / women are frequently bullied into relinquishing their rights. Most people don’t even know their patient rights, and the hospital is the last place they will learn about them.
Know your patient rights.
Also, bring back midwifery across the nation.
I’m not a huge earthy-birthy type, but stories like these have me leaning heavily toward home birth attended by a midwife unless an emergency arises.
I had a hospital birth, and got every intervention there was. It was a long, exhausting, confusing process, made somewhat more complex by the fact that I wasn’t part of the health plan in the country I delivered in, and had to prove I had insurance… in the middle of surgery, practically. That was awkward.
But if someone threatened to take custody of my infant because of a false positive on a drug test, that would have put me right over the edge. No doubt I would have started acting erratic and agitated and combative as well. Duh.
Anyone administering and analyzing drug tests should have right at hand a comprehensive list of all the things that could cause a false positive for any given substance they’re testing for.
But as a US Bill of Rights issue, I’d say that without any probably cause, that kind of “search” of one’s body for certain damning molecules is totally out of line, and against the law.
A friend of mine fosters a toddler with FAS. The little girl has four other siblings who all have issues related to drug and alcohol exposure in utero. It’s astonishing that a woman could bear FIVE kids who were all compromised, and all confiscated at birth to be put into foster homes to await adoption. Hard to say what is worse for the kids, to be removed from Mom or to be with her. Those are really tough cases.
But unless there’s hard evidence of drug use in some other form, drug testing on otherwise healthy mothers giving birth seems a little too invasive for my taste.
Most people accept the dictates of our healthcare system because they assume those people are The Experts.
Because of the internet, I used to assume people would investigate problems with medications, risks of medical treatments, surgery, hospital safety, etc. But most people don’t.
How bad is it?
Start asking details about why a person died when you hear of a friend or relative’s death. If you ask the right questions, you will discover that most of these people died because of medical treatment. The wording you hear from medical people often obscures the truth.
Do your homework.
Google “False Positives – medical tests”
Google “Hospital Dangers and Risks”
Google “chance of dying from medical treatment”
Good Grief. Amazing what our society has come to.
As the adopted mother of a meth exposed son, I see the need to be very careful with a positive test. He was tested positive for meth and taken away from the birth parents. He is 19 now and has terrible problems from her drug use. Physical and emotional. He is very bright, with a high IQ. But his emotional issues make it very hard for him to function in society. I didn’t yet read the whole article, but I doubt the baby was taken away if he was not positive.
I would have asked for a copy of the test results, then I would have made 200 copies, plus 200 copies of the Inhaler false positive story. Then gone to the hospital and handed it out to every nurse on that floor, plus taken a copy to the director or manager. I’d have made a huge stink.
They should of at least done the test again and looked at the threshold. The poppy seed/false positive for opiates is easily corrected and shouldn’t be an issue anymore. That being said, I have had a number of clients that claimed their positive test was the result of being in close proximity to someone using drugs or some other excuse, only to have them admit later on that they really did use.
I refused the drug test every time I gave birth. I don’t need a test; I already know that I don’t do drugs.
Two things. Rick you try to get out vaccines and if something happens it’s your fault. A Canada couple lost a kid and even though it more the ambulance fault he died,the parents are going to be punished. And you don’t get asked whether drug tests are cool with you.
I think that stories like this generally push the men and some of the women in the direction of less children or no children. The number of children being born in the US is now less than it used to be. Is this an exciting way to start a new family? Unfortunately, it happens to lots of people. Mediocre test kits are good enough to ruin the lives of good people according to the assorted authorities.
But all that really happened was she had to endure the embarrassment of publicly being called “combative.” They said she would not be allowed to breastfeed… But they changed their mind? It says clearly that she did breastfeed. And then she and the child were both released on schedule. Later CPS called her husband to say the baby’s test was negative, thank you and goodbye.
When I read the headline, I assumed that CPS took custody of her child. As it turns out, she simply endured a humiliating few days before it got sorted out. It’s really an unfortunate situation, but it’s hardly a tragedy.
You’re right, he wasn’t taken. CPS did their job correctly, so the baby went home on schedule.
I don’t think they should be using mediocre tests when better ones are available considering the possible repercussions to the family. While this story had a restest and all was well, who wants CPS in their life during the first few days after a first new baby has arrived. Then helicopter parenting and a bunch of other mandates are made. One story all by itself doesn’t do it, but many along with an experience or two will make the men and some women less baby crazy.
What is supposed to be the happiest time of a couples life is turned upside-down with stress, accusations, and hostile hospital staff and you say that is hardly a tragedy?
You go through it and let us know how it goes for you.
Was talking with my doctor about this story at our ball tournament. Had that been one of his patients he would have been all over the hospital staff and had it straightened out immediately.
Where in Canada?
Have yet to hear of legally mandatory vaccines. Please state your source.
It’s important to recognize this as proving racial and socioeconomic bias. Being poor or black makes it significantly more likely that you will be tested for drugs when you give birth (it’s not generally a requirement in hospitals) , and combined with the high rate of false positives, means more poor and minority women will have to suffer through situations like this. And with legit positive results, these groups are still disproportionately affected since the rates of drug use are similar across racial lines but if more minorities are tested simply because they are minorities, you’re going to catch more of them than the group you’re not testing.
Really and truly, drug use in pregnancy is a problem (not this woman’s, obviously) but we need to stop treating it criminally and start treating addiction like the mental health problem it is.
@Rick – this is not about vaccination. But seeing you brought it up, stop being stupid and vaccinate! The diseases vaccines are designed to stop (measles etc) , are returning because of silly beliefs like yours.
As to someone talking about asking what people die of….how ridiculous! No doubt a handful of people do die of medical misadventure, but most people die because, well, we all die eventually. No one gets out of life alive.
Back to this mum….poor thing! Big hugs. That must have been quite scary.
The story about the Canadian couple who have been found guilty because their toddler son died when he was sick has nothing to do with vaccines. He had been sick for 2 weeks and they had not taken him to a doctor. They were treating him with hot peppers and garlic and herbs, they thought he had the flu. Even when he was getting worse, not better and a family member who is a nurse said she thought he might have meningitis they still didn’t take him to the doctor. Even when he was so stiff he had to lay on a matteress in the car because he couldn’t sit in his car seat, they drove him to a naturopath to pick up more herbs instead of a doctor. The mother called 911 when he quit breathing. It was near Lethbridge Alberta.
I am all for parents deciding what is best for their child, however there comes a point when your child is ill that it is neglectful to not see a doctor. My kids don’t see doctors very often, they also don’t get sick very often. We do use some natural remedies and wait things out many times…but whenever they have been sick and it is really bad, or they are not get better in a timely matter, we take them to see a doctor.
This wasn’t a sudden illness and death. Letting your child suffer for 2 weeks, getting sicker and sicker to the point that they can’t even sit up they are so stiff, and they stop breathing and then die is neglectful. And the parents didn’t get in trouble because he wasn’t vaccinated, they got in trouble because they let him suffer for 2 weeks and get so sick that he died without seeing a doctor even after they were told by a nurse that she thought his symptom could be from meningitis.
If you want the Canada couple story check out medical kidnapped. It tells how his bad health was off and on. And he couldn’t ride in the car if he was stiff which he did. The ambulance was understock with medical supplies which would have saved him! Even the coroner said so!
@Jessica, yes, being accused and treated like a meth addict after you’ve just had a baby is AOK. Just what every new mother needs.
I don’t remember any drug testing (or drawn blood) after I gave birth (quite frequently before birth though), perhaps it’s a new thing. What they were testing was my baby with quite a few screenings (which I agreed to).
I just wanted to sleep on my stomach finally. I was out of the hospital within 24 hours of giving birth…I had no desire to stay and be poked and prodded and wanted to get myself and new baby home to the family.
All 3 of my children failed the hearing test.
All required follow up visits. They have incredibly good hearing (which dog barks and slammed doors confirmed) and even now when they can hear the crinkle of a candy bar being unwrapped) but we did the audiologist anyway, just to be sure. I also heard that screening has quite a few false positives given so early.
While I agree that this isn’t a tragedy, I would certainly characterize as more than just a minor incident. Having a child can be stressful, under the best of circumstances. If you add CPS scrutiny and harassment in the hospital, I would have been more than a little upset.
Twenty years ago, a drug test was part of my HMO’s regular prenatal screenings. I remember, because I refused the test because I didn’t want to pay for it. I always assumed that they probably did it without my consent, because that’s the sort of thing they would have done. I don’t remember being asked for permission with my other three pregnancies.
A friend tested positive for opiates while giving birth. The test was right, but it picked up the morphine the hospital had administered to her. I didn’t hear the story until years later, so I don’t know how bad it was at the time.
HOW HARD WOULD IT BE to redo a test, or at the very least confirm medical history (in the story from this post, I believe it was the woman’s asthma inhaler that triggered the false positive) before making accusations and treating a woman like a criminal? Especially if they’re still in the hospital. I can see not letting them leave before an explanation was found, if there was a solid reason to suspect that there was a problem. But treating all woman as criminals because some abuse drugs and/or alcohol is just wrong.
I was randomly drug-tested by my employer while 8 months pregnant. I thought it was hilarious…and ironic because at the time, I worked for a pharmaceutical company that was promoting the safety of Pregnancy Category B (safer than C) for a LEGALLY prescribed drug that turned out to cause birth defects (mainly heart defects) in babies.
Hospitals test you for drugs while you’re giving birth??! As if you have nothing better to do than worry about that stuff??
What are they trying to prevent here? Surely after nine months all the damage is already done…
@Laurie: ” there are parents who actually put their kids on LEASHES (yesâ€¦.LEASHES, if you donâ€™t believe me, feel free to google it!”
My very level-headed, sane mom put a leash on ME when I was a tot old enough to quickly run into the street and too young to reliably stop when she told me to.
@elizabeth: “I got expelled from my college because i knew ways to kill someone and dispose of a body” Ehm… Who doesn’t, these days?
Lenore: Check out yesterday’s Dear Abby on Uexpress, the letter written by the 17 year concerned for her six year old nieces safety.
@Laurie: ” I do see parents that use them as a way to pretty much drag their child around, even if their child is as old as 5 or 6.”
How do you know how old they are?
My BFF’s son is big. Tall. Large. When he was only three people thought he was six.
I have seen lots of kids on the safety leash. I’ve never seen a parent drag one around. Cross my heart.
@Papillo: I was also suffering from severe depression at the time, and i still do to a mild extent. If i had gone the act-on-impulse route instead of clearing my head and trying to decide where to go from there calmly, id be dead (suicide). Thats grounds for a lawsuit (a real, honest one, not frivolous like many of the ones today). Honestly, they couldve remained cool-headed and ASKED me how i knew that stuff, and WHY i wanted to know it (for writing a novel) instead of freaking out and assuming i was a psychopath. (i have secondary psychopathic traits, but the amount of empathy i possess wins out every time.)
Warren – I assume Theresa was referring to this tragic story about the nutbars in Alberta that tried to treat their son’s bacterial meningitis with herbal remedies. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/06/24/babys-death-worst-day-of-my-life-collet-stephan-tells-sentencing-hearing.html. Called the ambulance after their son stopped breathing. Nothing to do with vaccines or “medical kidnapping”, and certainly not a shining example for the free range parenting movement.
While I certainly question testing everyone for drugs during delivery (if that is what happened here) and I question the legality if done without knowledge (if that is what happened here), I do wonder what you think the hospital should do when someone tests positive for meth. Ignore it? Take everyone’s word for it that it is a false positive and do nothing?
Under no stretch of the imagination should active meth user = good enough parent in anyone’s mind. Those two groups are pretty mutually exclusive. Especially when you are talking about an infant with no ability to meet its own needs or protect itself.
While I agree with you that it should not be ignored, the hospital staff has a moral and ethical responsibility here. When talking to my family doctor at our ball tournament about this story he said that if staff, administrative, nursing or doctor, had treated any patient of his in this manner, without consulting him and doing a thorough medical history investigation, he would be looking at disciplinary actions in house and with licensing boards.
He also stated they better have damn good probable cause to test for drugs in the first place.
I don’t know how health care works in the states and maybe we just have a great doctor but anytime any of us visits a hospital for treatment our doctor is is copied within 24 hours. He has also told us that should we feel we are not getting the treatment we need or are even slightly skeptical about the diagnosis we are to call him immediately no matter where we are or what time it is.
“treated any patient of his in this manner”
What part of her treatment are you objecting to? The fact that they didn’t instantly believe that she was not a drug user because she said so? That they gave her some attitude? I wonder if you would feel the same way if she had been an actual drug user and not some innocent party (something the hospital had no way of knowing until after she left). The outrage in the post is that she was an INNOCENT person treated this way, not that drug users get treated poorly. The talk is even about innocent until proven guilty as if it is okay to be a bitch to someone who has actually been proven guilty (and I wonder how one does that other than actually seeing them ingest the drugs if we can’t presume guilt based on TWO positive drug tests).
The hospital did not separate her from her child. CPS didn’t put him in foster care. They advised her not to breast feed, but didn’t stop her from doing so. She didn’t claim that she or the baby got less care because of the issues. She and the baby left the hospital together as scheduled. Ultimately, the outside lab cleared up the issue and there were no further problems. I have to agree with Jessica here that this was not a tragedy. It was unfortunate and I feel for the mother that her child’s birth was marred. The nurses here should definitely be called to task about their attitude towards ALL patients who test positive for drugs, but that will never happen since society only cares when it happens to innocent people.
I do wonder where her doctor was in all of this. I can’t really fault the hospital of strangers for putting their stock in the drug tests, but the doctor should have had a better feel for who she is as a person, been more skeptical and expressed his skepticism. And maybe he did. Who knows.
“He also stated they better have damn good probable cause to test for drugs in the first place.”
I agree. And if that were the thrust of this post, I would wholeheartedly agree. However, it seems more like the complaints are that they accepted the results of two drug tests and treated her like a drug user when she wasn’t one.
@Donna: “I do wonder what you think the hospital should do when someone tests positive for meth. Ignore it? Take everyoneâ€™s word for it that it is a false positive and do nothing?
Under no stretch of the imagination should active meth user = good enough parent in anyoneâ€™s mind.”
Well, no, but if they test every mom-to-be for drugs, they should also have a lot of experience with false positives. The least they can do is ask what other medications she uses and what she had for breakfast (or whatever could influence the result of the drug test) and (try to) find out if this mom has a history of drug use ( –> something that should’ve come up earlier in the pregnancy, I think. IF they’re really so concerned for the baby, why does this only come up now?).
@Donna If the mother who tests positive for meth has been prescribed a medication that is known to cause false positives, I think that, before accusing her, they should take a step back and look at the facts more carefully. ABSOLUTELY make sure that the mom is not on meth before sending the baby home with her, but in this case when there was already an explanation available in her medical records, why couldn’t they have taken a step back and confirmed their results before making an accusation?
And no, they probably shouldn’t be treating any new moms like crap. It also shouldn’t matter if the mom was organic or if she ate Doritos now and then.
“Well, no, but if they test every mom-to-be for drugs, they should also have a lot of experience with false positives. ”
Who should have lots of experience? Maternity nurses? Why exactly should they have a lot of experience with false positives? False positives happen, but the vast majority of drug tests are actually right. Further, the maternity nurses never get the verified results. By the time the results come in, the patient is long gone from the hospital and the nurses have delivered/tended to several other babies since then. While I assume that they get training in general on false positives, they never know which tests were false and which were true.
“something that shouldâ€™ve come up earlier in the pregnancy, I think. IF theyâ€™re really so concerned for the baby, why does this only come up now?”
Why would the hospital have had any contact with the mother earlier in pregnancy?
“I think that, before accusing her, they should take a step back and look at the facts more carefully.”
What exactly did they accuse her of? Testing positive for meth? She did!!
“but in this case when there was already an explanation available in her medical records, why couldnâ€™t they have taken a step back and confirmed their results before making an accusation?”
No they had a POSSIBLE explanation available in her medical records. Another, even more, possible explanation is that she actually used meth. You are treating this situation one in which (a) everyone who uses inhalers tests positive for meth, (b) inhaler users and meth users are mutually exclusive groups and an inhaler user could never possibly also be a meth user, and (c) drug users never lie about their drug use. None of those statements are true. And confirmation of which of these two possibilities are true takes WEEKS.
The fact is that, at best, the hospital has two potential explanations for the drug use: (1) she used meth and (2) her inhaler caused a false positive. The first is more likely, but the second a definite possibility. Failing to address the first possibility until the final drug lab results come in could negative impact the infant for WEEKS. Addressing the first possibility until the final drug lab results come in does nothing other than possibly hurt the mother’s feelings. I guess the answer seems really clear to me what they should do. I have trouble understanding why others find it so controversial.
Donna – “Addressing the first possibility until the final drug lab results come in does nothing other than possibly hurt the motherâ€™s feelings. I have trouble understanding why others find it so controversial.”
Because hurting the mother’s feelings DURING labor is actually a really big deal. Having read her entire birth story from the link Lenore provided, I would bet you money that all the stress from the drug test and the resultant treatment by the staff is actually what CAUSED her C-section (her labor not progressing until eventually the baby’s heartbeat dropped). And those first few hours/days are also a critical period, and this kind of stress during that critical period could prevent successful breastfeeding, interfere with mother/child bonding (the stress hormones block the oxytocin), and cause or intensify post-partum depression (which she says it did in her case).
When I read the article earlier today, there were many comments from other mothers who had similar experiences with false-positives, but the comments don’t seem to be there anymore (now it looks like they’ve moved the conversation over to facebook instead). Several mothers said they tested positive for narcotics *after* the hospital gave them narcotics for labor, and yet they were treated as junkies even though it was right in their chart that they had been given a narcotic for pain relief.
If nothing else, this should be a lesson to every person who ever says, “Why should I care? I have nothing to hide.” when our civil liberties are constantly eroded away. She probably consented to have her blood tested, thinking it wouldn’t matter because she wasn’t on drugs.
Donna said “What exactly did they accuse her of? Testing positive for meth? She did!! ”
No, actually she did not. She tested positive for a class of OVER THE COUNTER, prescription and controlled drugs.
Here is part of an abstract on effects of false positives, that lists many items that will give a false positive for the ONE drug (meth) that they are testing for.
A total of 25 reports of false-positive UDS results were identified. Categories of medications included antihistamines, antidepressants, antibiotics, analgesics, antipsychotics, and nonprescription agents. Reports of false-positive results were found for the following formulary and nonprescription medications: brompheniramine, bupropion, chlorpromazine, clomipramine, dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine, doxylamine, ibuprofen, naproxen, promethazine, quetiapine, quinolones (ofloxacin and gatifloxacin), ranitidine, sertraline, thioridazine, trazodone, venlafaxine, verapamil, and a nonprescription nasal inhaler. False-positive results for amphetamine and methamphetamine were the most commonly reported. False-positive results for methadone, opioids, phencyclidine, barbiturates, cannabinoids, and benzodiazepines were also reported in patients taking commonly used medications. The most commonly used tests to screen urine for drugs of abuse are immunoassays, even though false-positive results for drugs of abuse have been reported with a number of these rapid-screening products. Results from such tests should be confirmed using additional analytical methods, including gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Ibuprofen and non-prescription inhalers are on that list. So are a LOT of other things that are not what they are testing for, and not, apparently, things that they are asking people about prior to doing the testing.
“Because hurting the motherâ€™s feelings DURING labor is actually a really big deal.”
Okay, again, what was the hospital supposed to do? Ignore the test? Say it was okay for her to breast feed for weeks while waiting for the final test knowing those weeks could negatively impact the child’s brain and development if she does use meth? Apparently some of you need to go spend some time with drug addicted infants.
“Having read her entire birth story from the link Lenore provided, I would bet you money that all the stress from the drug test and the resultant treatment by the staff is actually what CAUSED her C-section”
Which would make sense if the problems started after the positive drug test, but they didn’t. She was already struggling with labor BEFORE the second positive test and she reports being “giddy with relief” between the 1st and 2nd test thinking this something that would be resolved quickly. She also was not advised about any ramifications until after the second positive. It is possible without the added stress of the test that she would have turned it around and not had a c-section. It is also possible that she would have still needed a c-section since the problems pre-date the tests.
But, again, what is the hospital to do?
“Several mothers said they tested positive for narcotics *after* the hospital gave them narcotics for labor, and yet they were treated as junkies even though it was right in their chart that they had been given a narcotic for pain relief.”
Which is utterly ridiculous, but not the scenario here at all. Here we have an outside medication and a street drug – neither one prescribed or administered at the hospital – where the hospital has nothing other than her word that she took the medication within a time that could result in a positive test AND that she doesn’t take meth. Unfortunately, drug users are very well known for being dishonest about their drug use.
And again this comment – and the comments of the mother – indicate that it is okay to treat “junkies” poorly, but not innocent people. And somehow the hospital should just know on sight the difference between people who test positive and use drugs and people who test positive and don’t use drugs and treat them accordingly.
“No, actually she did not. She tested positive for a class of OVER THE COUNTER, prescription and controlled drugs.”
No, she falsely tested positive for methamphetamine. Unfortunately, there are some over-the-counter and prescription medications that, if taken in sufficient amounts close enough to the date of the test, can result in a false positive in preliminary tests due to sharing similar chemical compounds. This is why they send the samples on for further confirmation.
“Results from such tests should be confirmed using additional analytical methods, including gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.”
Which is exactly what they did prior to taking away the child, calling CPS or doing anything other than referring the case to the in-hospital social worker and encouraging her not to breast feed.
“Ibuprofen and non-prescription inhalers are on that list. So are a LOT of other things that are not what they are testing for, and not, apparently, things that they are asking people about prior to doing the testing.”
Again, the relevance of this in the moment that the person is in the hospital and pending the final results is virtually nil. For it to have any real life relevance, we would have to assume that people cannot simultaneously use these drugs AND meth, that illegal drug users never deny their drug use, and that people will never lie about taking acceptable drugs to cover up their illegal drug use. In fact, all those things happen daily.
The preliminary drug tests have a 15% false positive rate, meaning that the vast majority of tests are correct. While I would be outraged if they had acted more aggressively based on a preliminary test when there was another offered explanation and I am outraged by treating drug addicts as less than, I have no problem with them acting as though there is a strong possibility that the mother did use meth and advising her accordingly as it related to possibly passing that drug onto the child. Which is ALL that happened here.
“If nothing else, this should be a lesson to every person who ever says, â€œWhy should I care? I have nothing to hide.â€ when our civil liberties are constantly eroded away.”
FYI, I can’t speak for hospitals, but I will say that CPS and juvenile courts (at least in my state) consider a refusal to take a drug test a positive drug test. And, if you refuse, there is no way to prove that you didn’t take drugs with more advanced testing as she did here.
“She probably consented to have her blood tested, thinking it wouldnâ€™t matter because she wasnâ€™t on drugs.”
It was a pee test and she stated that she didn’t know that they were testing for drugs at all. She had peed in a cup so often during pregnancy that she didn’t pay attention to what this specific test was for.
“The preliminary drug tests have a 15% false positive rate, meaning that the vast majority of tests are correct.”
That is 15% false positive rate for all the drug tests, not just specifically the drug tests where the mother is taking a drug known to give a false positive. Correct?
This article talks about drugs that *can* cause a false positive, but also mentions that using an inhaler “renders a false positive for methamphetamine in urine drug tests because it has a small amount of l-methamphetamine.” Not that it *can* give a false positive, but that it actually *does* give a false positive.
The hospital knows she uses an inhaler, since would be in all her pre-admission paperwork, she probably brought her inhaler to the hospital, and they can also verify with her doctor.
“Among pregnant women aged 15 to 44, 5.4 percent were current illicit drug users based on data averaged across 2012 and 2013.”
So if the prescribed drug the mother is known to be taking is 100% likely to give a false positive, and only 5% of pregnant mothers are drug users (not just meth, but all drugs), that means that the vast majority of drug tests under these conditions are NOT correct. I think the hospital *should* proceed as if the most likely explanation is a false positive.
The point of the testing is to prepare for the possibility that the baby might have withdrawal symptoms that need immediate treatment. They can prep for that just-in-case scenario, but the fact that the baby tested negative for meth and had no withdrawal symptoms, is also further evidence that she had a false positive.
“Okay, again, what was the hospital supposed to do? Ignore the test? Say it was okay for her to breast feed for weeks while waiting for the final test knowing those weeks could negatively impact the childâ€™s brain and development if she does use meth? Apparently some of you need to go spend some time with drug addicted infants.”
Yes, they should have ignored the initial test, because it gave them absolutely no information other than that she was using her prescribed medication. Maybe they shouldn’t have even given her the initial test knowing that she used this particular medication. Instead, they could have sent out for the more accurate test first, and while waiting for results to come back later, prepared for the rare (5% chance she’s a drug user) possibility that the baby could have withdrawal symptoms. They can advise her not to breastfeed and the possible damage it can do if she’s taking any of [insert list of drugs], and she is the only one at that point who truly knows if she is taking any of those drugs and whether or not she should breastfeed.
Normally I agree with most things you post on this site, but I think that this is one instance where your criminal law experience skews your perception to see drug use as more common that it actually is in the general population. While 5% of pregnant women is a large number of pregnant women, that doesn’t justify proceeding as if the mother using drugs is the most likely scenario.
“FYI, I canâ€™t speak for hospitals, but I will say that CPS and juvenile courts (at least in my state) consider a refusal to take a drug test a positive drug test. And, if you refuse, there is no way to prove that you didnâ€™t take drugs with more advanced testing as she did here.”
But does CPS/juvenile courts have a reasonable suspicion of drug use before asking for a drug test, or do they just drug test everyone? (My brother had to deal with a CPS investigation from a hostile neighbor making things up, and no one was asked to take a drug test, and the CPS case was closed). Also, a parent dealing with CPS and/or juvenile court is already being investigated for parental fitness in some way. They aren’t just drug testing every single parent in existence, like they are by testing the mothers in the hospital. Basically, this is similar to demanding drug testing for every parent who shows up to enroll their child in school.
“It was a pee test and she stated that she didnâ€™t know that they were testing for drugs at all. She had peed in a cup so often during pregnancy that she didnâ€™t pay attention to what this specific test was for.”
She may not have been paying attention, but it should have been in the paperwork she filled out somewhere. Hospitals are supposed to get informed consent. I’ve helped in the role of doula at about 50-60 births, and many of my clients refused to consent to many of the boilerplate procedures in the standard paperwork. The drug test consent is usually buried in there somewhere.
Drug-Testing Pregnant Women Nixed
“Strengthening constitutional protections against unreasonable searches, the Supreme Court ruled today that hospitals cannot test pregnant women for drugs without their consent. Under the Constitution, if women don’t agree to the tests, a warrant is necessary, the court ruled. Today’s ruling means that drug testing of pregnant women without their consent, even to protect their unborn children, cannot be considered a “special need.”
The Legality of Drug-Testing Procedures for Pregnant Women
“Based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Ferguson and recommendations from leading medical organizations, hospitals are now able to craft drug testing and treatment policies that are both constitutional and ethically sound. First, medical professionals should know that, if they perform testing for the specific purpose of gathering evidence of criminal conduct by patients, they have an obligation to inform the patients of their constitutional rights to protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Hospitals that fail to inform patients of their rights may be open to civil liability for monetary damages.”
“Who should have lots of experience? Maternity nurses? Why exactly should they have a lot of experience with false positives? False positives happen, but the vast majority of drug tests are actually right.”
Yet 15% isn’t. That’s 1 in 6 or 7 women (who tested positively) – that’s a lot!
Is it really too much to expect people who do these tests and start the whole social worker-CPS-etc procedure with all the consequences and stress those bring, to know what they’re doing with regard to false positives when those are so common?
“Why would the hospital have had any contact with the mother earlier in pregnancy?”
Hey, I know SOMEONE does those earlier checks during the pregnancy, after like 12/16/20 weeks, or whatever, and makes scans and tells you if it’s a boy or a girl, yada yada yada. I just assumed that too happens in the hospital. (Since it also seems normal to go to an obgyn for something as simple as getting birth control.)
So what I wonder about is why there were (apparently) no drug tests done during those checks.
We’re talking about the risk of a newborn getting meth-laced breastmilk for a couple weeks before the definitive test results come in. But this same newborn has just spent nine months basically getting her mom’s meth-laced blood fairly directly into her system. Why is that all fine and dandy, but the second baby takes a sip of breastmilk, all bets are off?
“So if the prescribed drug the mother is known to be taking is 100% likely to give a false positive, and only 5% of pregnant mothers are drug users (not just meth, but all drugs), that means that the vast majority of drug tests under these conditions are NOT correct. I think the hospital *should* proceed as if the most likely explanation is a false positive.”
You still have the problem that the fact that you get a false positive for whatever’s in the inhaler doesn’t prove that you aren’t ALSO getting a true positive. As has been noted several times, it has been known to happen, from time to time, that people who use illegal drugs, may once in a while fib a little bit about whether or not they use illegal drugs.
The hospital’s approach isn’t to act on the most likely cause of a positive test, but to act on the worst-possible cause of a positive test. If your child arrives at the hospital with a case of meningitis, the most likely case is that it is viral in nature and will pass by itself in a few days, and the appropriate treatment is to manage the fever and wait. On the other hand, it’s also possible that the meningitis is bacterial in nature, in which case the proper course of treatment is antibiotics, lots of them, administered as soon as possible, because bacterial meningitis is life-threatening. Now, to find out which your child has, they can perform a spinal tap and culture the fluid to see if it has bacteria… but while you wait for those test results, should you just wait around, and see if it resolves by itself, or administer antibiotics to fight the bacterial infection that may be (but probably isn’t) present. (Hint… it’s the antibiotic one.)
It’s not about what’s most likely. It’s about which possibility has the most severe consequences.
to be honest, I think that if the possibility of drug use was indeed present, then they should test before the baby has a chance to be affected (early on in pregnancy). Meth has some very serious side effects, ones that do NOT go unnoticed, especially to a person’s regular doctor. the fact that other than asthma, she had no alarming health problems should have deterred them from automatically assuming that a drug test administered during labor (but never previously considered at all in the pregnancy). that would be like if I took eight ibuprofen and four acetaminophen (i have a high tolerance) and some zzzquil and someone assuming I’m trying to commit suicide. ive done that. the most that happened was I woke up a bit more groggy than usual. okay, maybe it isn’t quite like that, but close.
“Itâ€™s not about whatâ€™s most likely. Itâ€™s about which possibility has the most severe consequences.”
And if I had been in her position, I would have sued until the hospital felt those severe consequences. The lady who had a false positive from her poppyseed muffin successfully sued and the hospital settled for almost $150,000.
“The hospitalâ€™s approach isnâ€™t to act on the most likely cause of a positive test, but to act on the worst-possible cause of a positive test.”
But there is no point in the drug test in the first place if the mother is taking a drug with a 100% false positive rate. The drug test tells you nothing more than if you didn’t do the drug test at all.
The hospital can still proceed as if the false positive is the most likely, while simultaneously having withdrawal treatment as backup just in case. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
*the fact that other than asthma, she had no alarming health problems should have deterred them from automatically assuming that a drug test administered during labor (but never previously considered at all in the pregnancy) was a true positive.* one of my sentences isn’t complete.
“And if I had been in her position, I would have sued until the hospital felt those severe consequences.”
Er… sued for what, exactly?
“Erâ€¦ sued for what, exactly?”
For one thing, the mother is still suffering from post partum depression, which she attributes mostly to this hospital experience (which might even fall under a form of post-traumatic stress disorder).
In the poppyseed muffin case, the mother settled out of court, but she “may have gotten even more in a jury trial for negligent infliction of emotional distress.” – http://blogs.findlaw.com/legally_weird/2013/07/poppy-seed-bagel-caused-mom-to-fail-drug-test-lose-custody.html
I think that ruining the birth experience and first month of a new parent’s life with their newborn would definitely fall under negligent infliction of emotional distress. Especially since – because of the medication she was legally prescribed – the drug test failed to give them any more information than if they had not done the drug test at all.
“I think that ruining the birth experience and first month of a new parentâ€™s life with their newborn would definitely fall under negligent infliction of emotional distress.”
This is not a thing you can sue for. Want to try again?
False positives are common enough that my wife (former lab tech), eliminated everything a month before our oldest was due, including her asthma inhaler, went plain instead of everything bagels.
This could have been worse, and even people who actually test positive need to be treated better.
That said, there is an issue with the medical establishment relying on single points of data.
An interview by someone, look for behavioral indicators, pregnancy history if available, those are all things that can be done to refine the risk level of a positive test.
In addition, every time I’ve been tested at work, they asked for all medications taken recently to compare against false positives. Failure to do that is lazy.
The closest similarity in our kid’s history was our son’s pediatrician trying to diagnose “failure to thrive” on body weight alone.
1. Family history. My mother kept my growth charts and it was a near exact overlay.
2. He was meeting milestones ahead of schedule, and the doctor had even commented on his speech ability
3. Head circumference is a better indicator than weight
4. Active and happy in the office
5. The doc was using a growth chart not recommended for use by the CDC. They recommend the WHO chart, especially for breast fed babies.
I was combative myself. I don’t know where it would have gone if we hadn’t moved back home to SC the next month where his pediatrician said:
“He’s a bit thin, but obviously healthy and happy, and really active. Other babies in the family thin?”
“Ok. then. Just wanted to make sure we didn’t need to see if there was a digestive issue or something. See you in 6 months”
What should they have done with a positive result?
Well, assuming the hospital has ANY interest in protecting the rights and mental health of innocent mothers, they could initiate a protocol where nursing is not permitted until some kind of confirmation (e.g., testing the baby) occurs. They could not make the mother feel like a pariah and cause her believe her parental rights were being interfered with on the strength of a single test, until such time as better cause was established.
The problem of addicted mothers caring for, and harming, babies is real. I know a couple that is in the process of adopting two such children’ thankfully there don’t seem to be any long-term effects by the age of three, but growing up in that environment would have been horrendous.
That does not mean there cannot be better protocols that both protect the babies, and avoid treating responsible, innocent parents like criminals while threatening them with the loss of their children.
MattB, I had a similar, albeit not identical, situation with one of my kids and FTT.
In our case, I really wasn’t nursing well and due to exhaustion and a possible mild case of PPD, just wasn’t on top of things and didn’t really notice she wasn’t eating well. So supplementation, and eventually weaning to a bottle when it turned out I just wasn’t up to the effort of trying to sustain nursing with supplementation, was the answer.
But the thing that made me vow never to return to that doctor was that on the first poor weight gain visit, he said, “If we can’t get her weight back up, we’ll have to test for CF.” Not only was that an irresponsible scare tactic, he was either lying and he knew it as to the appropriateness of that test, or totally incompetent — my daughter had no other symptoms of CF and no family history of it.
Do you have to consent to a drug test? Is this some mandatory thing these days? Drug tests are notoriously unreliable.
Obviously the problem here is the testing. Very few pregnant women are on drugs, so few that the false positive rate of the large population of non-drug using moms will yield more hits than the true positive rate of the tiny minority of pregnant drug addicts.
We see this is the numerous first person accounts in the comments in this thread from false positives, here on a small discussion thread.
OK, it appears that as of March of this year, the Supreme Court has ruled that drug testing pregnant moms without consent or a warrant is unconstitutional.
Therefore, the current law is that you have a right to say no to these tests.
I know I’m late to the party, but I actually completely agree with Donna. The problem isn’t so much that an innocent woman was suspected of drug use after two (falsely) positive drug tests. The real problem is that all expectant mothers are asked to preemptively prove that they aren’t drug users without the slightest reason to suspect that they are. The problem is that society feels a responsibility to vet all new mothers before allowing us to go home with our own babies. This attitude of “prove your innocence” seems to be increasing in our society, bolstered by the dubious argument that you shouldn’t be worried if you don’t have anything to hide.