Jameson Hospital have paid $143,500 to settle the suit filed on behalf of Elizabeth Mort by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. Mort sued in October 2010, alleging that a poppy seed bagel she ate shortly before arriving at the hospital spurred a positive test for opiates in April 2010 that prompted the seizure of her 3-day-old daughter, Isabella Rodriguez.
Mort was at home with her baby when a county child welfare caseworker arrived with an emergency protective custody order and took Isabella. However, Mort was never told in the hospital that she had failed a drug test, nor was she asked if she had eaten anything that could have affected the test results.
The suit argued that Jameson Hospital used a much lower threshold for drug screening than federal guidelines, resulting in more false positives from common foods and medicines. The federal standard is 2,000 nanograms per milliliter, but Jameson Hospital used a reading of 300 nanograms, according to the lawsuit.
The hospital has now implemented policy changes as accordingly and Isabella was returned to her mother five days after being taken away. “We hope that this case will encourage hospitals that routinely test pregnant women for drug use to reconsider that practice due to the harm that can result from false positives,” said Pennsylvania ACLU staff attorney Sara Rose.
– Mark Dalton