Mom settles suit: Poppy seed bagel led to false positive in hospital drug test
A Pennsylvania mom settled a lawsuit over a hospital drug test she failed because she had eaten a poppy seed bagel. Poppy seeds have trace amounts of opium in them.
A woman ‚Äď who had her newborn taken away because she failed a hospital¬†drug¬†test¬†after she ate a poppy¬†seed¬†bagel ‚Äď has¬†settled¬†a lawsuit¬†over¬†the case.
Lawrence County's child welfare agency and Jameson Hospital have paid $143,500 to¬†settle¬†the¬†suit¬†filed on behalf of Elizabeth Mort by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which announced the settlement Tuesday.
Mort sued in October 2010, alleging that a¬†poppy¬†seed¬†bagel she ate shortly before arriving at the hospital spurred a positive¬†testf or opiates in April 2010. That test prompted the state seizure of her 3-day-old daughter, Isabella Rodriguez.
Mort said she was home with her baby when a county child welfare caseworker arrived with an emergency protective custody order and took Isabella.
The lawsuit alleged 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 infant was returned five days later, after local officials agreed there was no evidence the mother had used illegal¬†drugs.
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.
ACLU officials said Tuesday the hospital and county have implemented policy changes so newborns aren't taken from parents based only on maternal¬†drug¬†tests, which can be inaccurate.
"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.