Woman sues UPMC over undisclosed pregnancy drug test
Rachael Devore expected a stressful few weeks after the birth of her first child.
But when a UPMC social worker accused Devore, 31, of Brighton Heights of taking drugs during her pregnancy, triggering threats to take the baby away, she said her first two months of motherhood turned into a nightmare.
“The whole approach was just deplorable,” Devore said. “Having a baby is supposed to be such a beautiful experience, such a great experience. It's not fair, and it's not OK for someone to take that away.”
Devore sued UPMC on Tuesday, claiming the hospital giant drug-tested her and her newborn without consent and shared inaccurate results with county social workers.
UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Kreps declined comment.
The Supreme Court ruled against the practice of hospitals testing pregnant women for drugs without their consent in 2001. The court said testing pregnant women violated the Constitution's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches.
Devore said nurses tested her urine for drugs when she went to Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Oakland to give birth on June 24. The test results produced a “false positive,” Devore said, because she recently ate bread with poppy seeds. Poppy seeds are derived from the same plant as opium.
Even though nurses didn't test Devore's blood for drugs, and her daughter, Emmalyn, tested negative for drugs, a UPMC social worker asked about Devore's alleged drug use, according to the civil complaint filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
The social worker referred Devore to Allegheny County Children, Youth and Family Services, though there was “no reason to suspect or believe that (the child) had been the victim or was in danger of being abused,” the complaint states.
CYF social workers inspected Devore's home and checked on Emmalyn during weekly visits for two months, Devore said.
When the visits ended, CYF didn't confirm the case was closed, the complaint says.
Margaret S. Coleman, Devore's attorney, said hospitals shouldn't test expectant mothers for drugs without consent, nor should they share test results with other agencies unless a child's health is at risk.
Last year, Lawrence County CYF paid $143,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a woman whose 3-day-old daughter was taken from her. That woman, according to court records, ate a poppy seed bagel before she went into labor.
Devore said she doesn't want other women to go through her ordeal.
“I'm not advocating to say that some women shouldn't be tested if it's warranted, but in my case, there was nothing that warranted it,” she said.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ fourth-round pick Grant relies on smarts to get job done
- Ligonier Township mourns K-9 officer killed in wrong-way crash
- Rossi: Not too early to go with Kang
- Pa. Gov. Wolf’s general counsel tied to $358M bond project winner
- Most welcome, but some question plans for Beaver County cracker plant
- Veteran detective dies of suspected ‘cardiac event’ during drug investigation in Fayette County
- Missing Indiana Township girl home safe
- Analysis: Chlorine to curb Legionnaires’ eating away at pipes at VA sites
- Report: Germanwings crash co-pilot tried descent previously
- Pirates’ offense still stuck in a rut during setback to Reds at PNC
- Penguins notebook: Team hires director for Lemieux Complex