PITTSBURGH - A first-time mother is suing the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center saying hospital officials defamed her and violated her doctor-patient confidentiality by telling a county child welfare agency the woman failed a drug test the day her baby was born, even though the results were due to bread she ate containing poppy seeds.
UPMC isn't commenting on the lawsuit filed Tuesday by Rachael Devore, an Allegheny County woman who gave birth at Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC on June 24.
The lawsuit contends the hospital staff took Devore's urine for drug testing while she was in labor, then turned over the "positive" drug test to county caseworkers who eventually inspected Devore's home, and referred her to a substance abuse counselor.
“(A nurse) said they were testing her to make sure she didn’t test positive for opiates, and I said, ‘Why would she test positive for opiates?’ and she said, ‘Oh, you did,’” Devore said.
Devore’s attorney, Margaret Coleman, said Tuesday that the case “stands for the simple proposition that hospitals should not ‘drug test’ expecting mothers without their informed consent, nor report the results of those tests to the government in violation of the patient's right to privacy and confidentiality, unless otherwise necessary to protect the health of the child.”
"They performed a secret drug test on a patient in their care. There was absolutely no medical reason why that needed to be done. The second thing they did wrong was they disclosed that information to the government,” Coleman said.
Her newborn daughter, identified only as E.D. in the complaint, tested negative for illegal drugs.
Although the home inspections and drug tests have ended, Devore said she hasn't received confirmation that the case is closed, and because of this “lack of formal closure,” she and her husband “remain fearful that CYF or some other governmental agency may once again intrude into their personal lives, the privacy of their home and/or otherwise threaten the integrity of their family.”
"It's hard, especially when you had a perfectly healthy pregnancy. I took steps to be that good mom and they are accusing me of doing something that is just heartbreaking. It's hard,” Devore said.
Opiates like heroin are made from poppies, which is why the seeds can result in false positives on drug tests.
The Associated Press and Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.