MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Mom of Newborn Reported to State for Eating a Poppy Seed Bagel

"I said, 'Well, can you test me again? And I ate a poppy seed bagel this morning for breakfast,' and she said, 'No, you've been reported to the state.'"

|||Marie Kazalia/Dreamstime.comMarie Kazalia/Dreamstime.comWhen a mother in labor seemed to test positive for opiates, that alone was enough to get her reported for drug use. To make matters worse, she claimed that she hadn't actually been using drugs.

Baltimore County mother Elizabeth Eden was in labor at St. Joseph Medical Center when a doctor informed her that she tested positive for opiates, WBAL-TV reports. Earlier that day, Eden had consumed a poppy seed bagel. She remembered hearing in a health class that the poppy seeds could lead to a false positive in a drug test.

"I said, 'Well, can you test me again? And I ate a poppy seed bagel this morning for breakfast,' and she said, 'No, you've been reported to the state,'" Eden recalled. After giving birth, Eden's daughter, Beatrice, was forced to remain in the hospital for five days. Eden was also assigned a caseworker, who conducted a home check. When the caseworker concluded that the poppy seed defense was legitimate, the case was closed. Still, Eden called the ordeal "traumatizing."

Time explains why something as small as a poppy seed can cause such a misunderstanding:

Opium, heroin, codeine and morphine all come from opium poppies. While poppy seeds do not actually contain any of these substances, they can become tainted with morphine during the harvesting process, according to Brittanica. In some cases, the morphine residue on the seeds, while not enough to create a high, is enough to throw off the results of a drug test, research shows.

Over the years, cases like Eden's have inspired questions about the thresholds used in drug tests—not to mention an arguably overzealous response when a new mother is suspected of drug use. In Pennsylvania in 2009, Lawrence County Children and Youth Services (LCCYS) seized Eileen Ann Bower's newborn son from Jameson Hospital after poppy seeds in a potato salad triggered a false positive drug test. He remained in foster care for two months.

A similar incident occurred at the same hospital in 2010. After Elizabeth Mort and Alex Rodriguez welcomed their baby girl, Isabella, into the world, they received a home visit from LCCYS. The three-day-old was forced into foster care for five days before LCCYS realized its mistake. As in Bower's case, the seizure revealed that cutoff level for opiate testing was low enough for poppy seeds to trigger a positive. This, coupled with what Mort and Rodriguez called a "seize first, ask questions later" policy in their eventual lawsuit, led to confusion between the legal system and parents.

In Eden's case, Dr. Judith Rossiter-Pratt, chief of the OB/GYN department at St. Joseph Medical Center, told WBAL-TV that the test's threshold was lowered in an attempt to catch more people. Setting the bar higher to only identify "true positives" could cause the hospital to miss several drug users, she argued.

Reason's Jacob Sullum has argued that the rush to separate mothers from their children following a positive drug test is misguided:

The problem with Lawrence County's policy is not just that urinalysis is not always reliable. It is also that drug use during pregnancy does not ipso facto prove that a newborn is in danger of neglect or abuse, or that he would be better off in foster care. "By law," [Charles Davis of Change.org] notes, "the state is only permitted to take a child from its parents if there's clear evidence of abuse or imminent danger—and only as a last resort." The government does not (and should not) automatically seize the children of women who drink alcohol or smoke tobacco during pregnancy, and there is no rational reason to treat illegal drugs differently.

It's not just new mothers who get tangled in these policies. Just this year, Eleazer Paz, an officer with the New York City Department of Correction, lost his job after failing a drug test. Paz blamed the positive on poppy seeds, and sure enough, a doctor concluded that the opioids found in his drug test were "inconsistent with heroin or individual morphine and codeine ingestion." Nonetheless the department decided to uphold the firing.

Bonus links: Here's a story of a woman who was nearly placed behind bars because of a false drug test. Here is yet another story of a mother getting separated from her baby after failing a dubious drug test.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Jerryskids||

    It's not just new mothers who get tangled in these policies.

    Policies? I thought we had a policy of respecting the Constitutional right to due process and freedom from self-incrimination. Since when have doctors and nurses been issued law enforcement credentials and become trusted agents of the police state? What the fuck is a hospital doing drug-testing these patients in the first place?

  • Hugh Akston||

    I thought we had a policy of respecting the Constitutional right to due process and freedom from self-incrimination.

    You have a rich fantasy life.

  • ||

    What the fuck is a hospital doing drug-testing these patients in the first place?

    Call me a radical statist, but if you're going to give someone morphine, it might be a decent idea to know how much is in their blood before you start.

  • Kivlor||

    No, your doctor has no reason to know what drugs you might be under the influence of before giving you more drugs. Because that's statism. /s

    But seriously, there has to be some sort of happy medium here. Perhaps revising HIPPA so they can't just turn you in? I know that they can't do that with alcohol...

  • ||

    But seriously, there has to be some sort of happy medium here. Perhaps revising HIPPA so they can't just turn you in? I know that they can't do that with alcohol...

    There is a happy medium, just not at a hospital at the bulk prices a hospital will quote your insurer.

  • ||

    There is a happy medium

    Not to say that the existence of a happy medium should nullify HIPPA/healthcare regulation reform. To a degree; 'Either ACA or HIPPA, not both.'

  • Flinch||

    I may be jaundiced, but the purpose of HIPPA is to corral doctors into feeding government databases. They can get dinged for each "disclosure" they can't prove, and the so called privacy document you sign at the doctors office is utterly worthless to you as a patient - privacy is not on the menu, whether you sign or not. They can prove disclosure in other ways, but most offices are just going to refuse treatment as it's too big a legal pain and staff is generally underinformed.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Yeah, this isn't about "healthcare professionals" attempting to determine a correct dosage. It's about busy bodies reporting new moms to the local police state because "Setting the bar higher to only identify "true positives" could cause the hospital to miss several drug users, she argued". Can't have a fucking hospital fail to report drug users, right asshole?

  • BillEverman||

    Well, given that your doctor works for you, perhaps a good way to find out what drugs are in your system is to ask you. Clearly running a test isn't ideal. I mean, I sure wouldn't want the morphine dose for my severed limb to be reduced because of what I ate for breakfast.

  • sarcasmic||

    Since when have doctors and nurses been issued law enforcement credentials and become trusted agents of the police state?

    Mandatory reporters. They must report everything, no matter how small, or risk their license and livelihood being taken away by the state.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yes!!! Doctors are licensed by the State, so they are sluts for the State!!! Plain and simple!

  • croaker||

    And if they're wrong, they should lose their license for being cock-sucking bastards.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Welcome to "There oughta be a Law" real life edition. The Drug War has eroded our constitutional rights to nubs of their former glory. Now, if there was any indication that said War was doing any freaking good, I might be prepared to listen to arguments in its favor. Might. But it isn't. If there has been a single year...hell a period of three MONTHS ... when it was impossible to obtain any of the popular street drugs in most US cities, I haven't heard of it.

    And, wouldn't you know it, after a while of not getting anywhere the people fighting the Drug War have taken the attitude "We know they are out there. We just have to figure out a way to GET THEM. Not get them through solid evidence and good police work. Just Get Them.

    And voila; here we are.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    She remembered hearing in a health class that the poppy seeds could lead to a false positive in a drug test.

    And by "health class" she means Seinfeld episode.

    It's the medical center's mandate to catch drug users?

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    Actually, Mythbusters did this. They found eating most of a prepackaged poppy seed cake resulted in positive tests.

  • ||

    Actually, Mythbusters did this.

    I know it was on Seinfeld because I had a drugs of abuse testing job where we actually did calibrate and/or adjust for these things factors at the time and I *know* Seinfeld ended before Mythbusters aired.

  • BillEverman||

    The same thing can be, and in fact was, on two (or more!) TV shows.

  • MikeP2||

    Mythbusters wasnt science. It was sciency entertainment. Kinda like a white Neal deGrasse Tyson.

    It is laughable to think poppy seeds would set of a drug test. Same way its laughable to think hemp would set on off.
    Tests are based on specific chemical compounds.

  • BillEverman||

    Poppy seeds can do it. It depends on the threshold the test is looking for. Jameson Hospital lost a suit filed by the woman whose baby they stole based on a badly calibrated test, so you could maybe ask them to verify that poppy seeds will result in a positive result if you have the threshold of the test set low enough.

  • Antilles||

    Back when I was in the Air Force there was word some people were failing the random drug tests because they had consumed products made from hemp. The military's solution to this problem? New regulations forbidding military members from using any hemp products. Problem solved!

  • BillEverman||

    Apparently, folks who are being drug-tested on probation can be asked to sign a pledge that they won't eat anything with poppy seeds. That way, if they come up positive on a drug test and say that's what caused it, they're still violating probation.

    Big Bagel needs to get some lobbyists on this.

  • Uncle Jay||

    The mother has no business eating anything not dictated by The State.
    She should be eating unicorn hair, chocolate covered pixie dust and used tampons as mandated by the Eating After Birth Commission.
    Hopefully, the Eating Police were there to march her off to the gulag for more politically correct instruction.

  • Tony||

    So women have to endure being pregnant and they can't even get drunk or high during the ordeal?

    I don't think anyone older than my parent's generation had such rules, and the species seems to be doing... okay, not great, but okay.

  • Kivlor||

    Well, what little studies have been done do show that even light alcohol consumption during pregnancy is correlated with permanent behavioral issues in children. And since you're not merely harming yourself, but doing it to a person who can't consent to this, or even know what you're doing to them, but is in your custody due to your creating them...

  • Paloma||

    Actually the biggest study on the topic showed that women who consumed light to moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy had better outcomes than those who abstained. But government puritan control freaks assume that if their physicians tell them this, they'll be getting drunk every night. Precautionary principle run amok.

  • Rossami||

    re: "light alcohol consumption during pregnancy is correlated with permanent behavioral issues in children"

    False. There is zero credible evidence in support of this hypothesis and considerable evidence showing that light to moderate alcohol has no or slightly positive effect.

  • ||

    Further, there is no law preventing a doctor, nurse, or PA from saying 1-2 drinks a month during pregnancy probably will not harm a baby.

  • ||

    Again, being a gay man your thoughts on the matter are double-plus null on the matter. You might as well be wondering why *we* won't let the stork drink during his flight to drop off babies at the cabbage patch.

  • Tony||

    Funny because allegedly heterosexual Jesus freaks have been telling me how to live my life for a very long time.

  • Agammamon||

    This is the state you asked for.

  • DajjaI||

    I once had to report my mother for getting poppy seed bagels. Sometimes as kids it's the only option.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    That's why you were banned!!!

  • kevrob||

    You were a horrible child!

    Now, summary execution if she got onion bagels. Onions suck.

  • NoVaNick||

    My wife had two C-sections and was given Percocet and Oxycontin after each-seems like the hospital had no problem giving her opiates

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    They don't like competition.

  • Shirley Knott||

    That's different! Legal drugs are fine, but illegal drugs, well, that's just not okay!
    Because illegal, you know.

  • ||

    My wife had two C-sections and was given Percocet and Oxycontin after each-seems like the hospital had no problem giving her opiates

    Sounds to me like you and your wife succumbed to an addiction to state-run medical care, multiple times. I blame you. /libertarian smug

  • NoVaNick||

    Well, I tried to convince her I could deliver them myself after watching a few YouTube videos, but she wasn't too keen on that...

  • NoVaNick||

    Do progs realize that when they call for more regulations and laws, we will be getting a lot more of this kind of shit?

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Do you think it is just progs? I know many conservatives who are for more drug testing as well. What most people do is apply the law to the one case in front of them at the time (hence the law will be named after one case Amber Alerts, Meghan's Law....). That law will be tailor made to fit that one case (and any similar ones) but will not work for the rest of them. Then when they see the problems they think the other side (because it is always the other side) is so stupid.

  • Kivlor||

    The difference in this instance is that conservatives are explicit about it. The Progs think that magically this won't happen, whereas the typical conservative is likely thinking "serves her right"

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Some conservatives certainly are "serves her right" but I also here from them when it affects people they know or identify with and then they put on their libertarian hat and say "god damn liberals have no respect for the family". Just like some liberals will come out and say "serves her right" (maybe not so much in this case) but they will definitely will when it is Rush Limbaugh or some other boogeyman.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Then when they see the problems they think the other side (because it is always the other side) is so stupid."

    And then they insist that a new law is needed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  • NoVaNick||

    I really meant STATISTS, who of course come in both flavors-prog and social conservative. Progs are usually the ones who scream "think of the children!" the loudest though. SoCons want to punish parents who use illegal drugs or anything else they disapprove of, progs want to crack down on those who own guns or smoke tobacco. In each case, they project things they don't like onto "The Children".

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Do progs realize that when they call for more regulations and laws, we will be getting a lot more of this kind of shit?

    Uninformed, bigoted right-wing rubes should read the Republican Party platform periodically.

  • NoVaNick||

    Ah yes, and the president who did more to ramp up the drug war and mass incarceration was from which party?

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    They most likely secured a meconium stain [from the newborn's first poop] to verify that the child was not exposed to morphine; this can take several days. Subsequent testing would have shown that the mothers test was a false positive; however, hospitals are bound to State regulations regarding reporting [and this of course includes women positive for illicit and non prescribed pharmaceuticals, including marijuana]. So the hospital is as bound by these regulations as is anyone else; failure for a "mandated reporter" to do so places them and the facility they work for at risk of sanctions, including loss of license and other criminal penalties.

    A newborn going through drug withdrawal is not a pretty sight. The laws are generally well meaning, but that road to hell again, good intentions all the way.

  • ||

    hospitals are bound to State regulations regarding reporting [and this of course includes women positive for illicit and non prescribed pharmaceuticals, including marijuana]. So the hospital is as bound by these regulations as is anyone else; failure for a "mandated reporter" to do so places them and the facility they work for at risk of sanctions, including loss of license and other criminal penalties.

    Yeah. This feels an awful lot like freaking out about kids being separated at the border. Can we go back to talking about getting the state out of the healthcare business?

  • Hugh Akston||

    So you want to get the state out of the border business too? Sounds good to me.

  • ||

    So you want to get the state out of the border business too?

    As long as we get them out of the healthcare (welfare) business, sure. Otherwise, more pregnant moms testing at the bottom of the detectable range for opioids get their kids taken away and neither one of us is happy.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I'm not sure anyone is making the argument that the hospital isn't/shouldn't be bound by regulations. The argument is that that regulations themselves are bad because they involve the cops/CPS at the worst possible time based on dubious drug test results.

    Even if the mother does test positive for the evil evil opioids, maybe grinding her and the baby up in the legal system isn't the best response?

  • ||

    maybe grinding her and the baby up in the legal system isn't the best response?

    Abortion thread, Activate!

    But, seriously, she tested above normal for opioids the hospital kept the baby for a week for observation and the social worker declared her fit to be a mother. I would prefer that a doctor realize that somebody with (e.g.) 1-10 ng/dL of opioids is not the same as someone with 50 ng/dL or higher but reprimand the guy and make him mop the floors for a week.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Yep, a mother was forcibly separated from her newborn for a week, had to pay thousands of dollars for the hospital to care for the kid, and had to prove to an investigator that she wasn't a dope fiend in contravention of due process. And nothing else happened. hth

  • ||

    had to pay thousands of dollars for the hospital to care for the kid

    Facts not in evidence.

    had to prove to an investigator that she wasn't a dope fiend in contravention of due process

    Contravenes facts in evidence. My oldest spent a week in the NICU eating from a tube in his nose after aspirating during birth. It wasn't a very big hospital and there were half a dozen other kids there with us. Get the fuck out of here with your "I was traumatized leaving my baby in the care of medical professionals while someone toured my apartment." bullshit. It's entirely legal to have your kid outside a hospital don't want to get run through the system for healthcare? Don't come to the system for healthcare.

  • Hugh Akston||

    You're right about the lack of evidence that the hospital charged the mother for their services. Without an itemized bill to prove otherwise I'm forced to admit that it's equally likely that they just did it for free.

    But I'm sure that being separated from her baby by force and being grilled by an agent of the state with unchecked power to take her baby permanently doesn't seem like a big deal to you because you've never experienced it. But you did have a job interview at Carl's Jr. once and that's basically the same thing so whats the BFD?

  • ||

    But I'm sure that being separated from her baby by force and being grilled by an agent of the state with unchecked power to take her baby permanently doesn't seem like a big deal to you because you've never experienced it.

    Been through a lot of pregnancy wards Hugh? Ever seen a newborn forcibly removed from their mother even once? You probably don't even have an interview at Carl's Jr. to your name.

  • Echospinner||

    They probably will not bill her given the circumstances. Risk management is all over this.

    They might try and bill the insurance company if she has one.

    I wonder what the ICD code would be in this situation.

  • swampwiz||

    I wonder about the cost issue. It would seem that once the State had decided to take custody of the child, it would be on the hook for the costs.

  • Rossami||

    re: "she tested above normal for opioids"

    Since there is no "normal" and since even if there were, the test (as used) is known to be unreliable, your conclusion is a null.

  • ||

    Since there is no "normal" and since even if there were, the test (as used) is known to be unreliable, your conclusion is a null.

    This is dumb. The test is (or can be) quantitative and correctly identified the presence of opioids. Even if this weren't the case, false positives do not disprove normality. The test isn't meant to measure abuse patterns which is why the results are disclosed to the doctor to interpret them. The doctor('s adherence to policy), not the test, was the point of failure.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    It isn't a matter of "normal", but of a cutoff level in urine or blood. Below that level you're fine; above that level and you have a problem. For the life of me I cannot see how some poppy seeds on a bagel could produce a false positive (i.e., a reading above the cutoff level). Makes no sense at all.

  • josh||

    It almost ruined Elaine's career at the J. Peterman Company too. We knew then!

  • Idle Hands||

  • Rich||

    While poppy seeds do not actually contain any of these substances, they can become tainted with morphine during the harvesting process

    "While US dollar bills do not actually contain any of these substances, they can become tainted with cocaine during the circulation process"

  • Vandalia||

    Every legitimate pain management clinic that prescribes opioids is required to provide LC/MS urine testing. Most have machines about the size of a business desk in their offices.

    It is absolutely inexcusable that a HOSPITAL does not use this type of testing in this situation. I am a strong proponent of malpractice reform, but I would have no trouble in awarding $50M in damages in this case.

  • Echospinner||

    This does not sound right.

    There is no recommendation from any of the major medical societies for universal tox screening in expectant mothers. Institutions should have clear guidelines for medical indications and must still have consent.

    Poppy seeds and other things can produce false positive results in screening tests. Confirmatory testing should be done in all positives and practitioners should be well aware of substances causing false positives. The drug labetolol commonly used to treat hypertension in pregnancy can cause a positive for meth and amphetamine for example.

    If confirmed they should have tested the neonate which does not seemed to have happened here.

    Sounds like the hospital screwed up. Yes they have an obligation to report but you better make darn sure your medical record is straight and you followed all of the guidelines before you make that call.

    https://preview.tinyurl.com/ybrx53ys

  • ||

    This does not sound right.

    Agreed. The reporting, as provided, is woefully full of holes.

    There is no recommendation from any of the major medical societies for universal tox screening in expectant mothers.

    Nor is it mandated at the federal level and varies state to state. It's almost like anesthesiologists and insurers are behind all this! Probably for filthy profits. It may surprise you to learn that some employer drugs of abuse testing criteria are voluntarily enacted and whimsically enforced.

    Sounds like the hospital screwed up. Yes they have an obligation to report but you better make darn sure your medical record is straight and you followed all of the guidelines before you make that call.

    The hospital followed their own protocols. They likely didn't invent their own whole cloth and cite regional and/or network studies. It's entirely possible they provided Mrs. Eden with a document saying they would follow their policies and procedures and/or that she waives or limits her rights to sue them as long as they do.

    Again, we're talking about a fairly messy life and legal situation, this is not the case to hang your libertarian hat on.

  • Cathy L||

    What the actual fuck is wrong with you? Without any suggestion that the infant had been harmed, there's no justification for anyone to violate the mother's rights by caring whether she takes drugs. Using opiates is a human right. Was the baby in distress? If not this was an unnecessary test designed only to violate the mother's rights.

  • ||

    Using opiates is a human right.

    Sure. So is a physician's free speech rights to report her to CPS authorities, what's your point/solution? I'm going to take a wild guess and say it involves more guidelines and government.

    I gotta wonder what the holy fuck is wrong with you people. Any other day, this story would be juxtaposed by dozens of kids remanded to the care of child molesters based on written law and moms suffering protracted (not weeks but... months!) loss of their children for letting them play at the park. A doctor made a mistake during a relatively stressful/complicated medical procedure. The mistake inconvenienced the mother while the hospital took care of the kid for a week (she probably even got to see the kid through plate glass like the rest of us).

    This is only modestly worse than the Lenore's story about the snitch who called the cops on an autistic kid, the cops showed up and politely asked if the kid was autistic and, literally, nothing else happened.

    If not this was an unnecessary test designed only to violate the mother's rights.

    The fact that you are saying this only convinces me that I'm right. Like saying cars were designed for no other purpose than to violate (not) drunk driver's rights.

  • Echospinner||

    I agree with that. There are no libertarian issues here.

  • Brandybuck||

    Setting the bar higher to only identify "true positives" could cause the hospital to miss several drug users, she argued.

    Translation: God forbid that some non-violent peaceful drug users slip through the net. The risk is so high that we must confiscate the infants of the innocent just to make sure that doesn't happen!

    This sounds remarkably like some of the anti-immigration folk."If she didn't want her baby taken from her then she shouldn't have eaten a bagel."

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Sounds more like the tough on crime people - "Yeah, a few innocent people were convicted, but if they weren't, more guilty people would have gone free."

  • DaneelOlivaw||

    Potential solution. Those who decide to do this (mess with people because of fake drug tests) have committed a crime. Maybe not a death penalty crime BUT incarceration likely?. That might sort them out.

  • ||

    Maybe not a death penalty crime BUT incarceration likely?

    The libertarian solution to government is... more government. Start jailing OBGYNs for trivial/non-fatal mistakes, I'm sure that will do wonders for medical costs and socialized medicine.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    No. The libertarian solution is no more drug laws, which would render drug testing, false positives or not, largely pointless.

  • ||

    The libertarian solution is no more drug laws, which would render drug testing, false positives or not, largely pointless.

    To a large degree, thematically, I agree. Practically, drug tests will still happen because of insurers and medical malpractice (and biology). However, Neither of these options was put on the table, punishing doctors for notifying CPS or CPS workers for showing up, saying "There's no case here." when there was no case, and leaving was what was proposed.

  • croaker||

    Whenever someone calls in the authorities over a drug test, it should be a "you bet your license" action. If you're wrong, you lose your license.

  • Echospinner||

    Docs also have to report suspected child abuse if there is medical evidence. It has nothing to do with punishing the mother.

    License has nothing to do with it. People misunderstand what state medical boards do. If you miss something like child abuse you could be hit with a massive lawsuit.

    https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/890141

    Obviously the hospital made an error here but it is not uncommon for a baby to be born with a seriously addicted mother. It would be negligent to just send a newborn home without some kind of plan in that situation. Plus you may need to treat and observe the child.

    That baby like any patient is the responsibility of the hospital until they are discharged with a discharge plan. Why do you think they take you out to your car in a wheelchair? With a baby they make sure you have a proper car seat. Fail to do that and it is not the government you need to worry about it is the lawyers.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Drug warriors are among my least favorite character-deprived authoritarians.

    I expect curbing the drug warriors -- forcing them to try to begin decent livelihoods -- to be among the next great projects of America's liberal-libertarian alliance. I expect right-wingers, as is customary, to fight progress, lose, and mutter bitterly about it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I worked with a woman who had an everything bagel every morning. She left to go work at a bank and initially failed their drug screen because of the poppy seeds in the bagel. She did end up getting it worked out. It was funny because she's like a little old church lady.

  • NashTiger||

    No one is going to protest babies being ripped from their mother's arms? They were forcefully separated for days! Where is the outrage machine?

  • ||

    No one is going to protest babies being ripped from their mother's arms?

    It's a maternity ward; purpose-built and staffed to forcibly extract children from parts of women far more... obstinate than her arms.

    Which is why this is a contract dispute, not a libertarian sine qua non.

  • Agammamon||

    While I don't support any of the stuff the state is doing here - you don't test positive for opiates because you ate a poppy seed bagel earlier that day. If nothing else, it takes time to digest and *metabolize* those ingredients in order to create the metabolites the test detects.

    And there are cut-offs below which the testers report a negative result even if some is detected.

  • MikeP2||

    Its a perpetual urban myth circulated by people ignorant of chemistry.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Decriminalize all drugs. Period. End of story.

    Could a mother-to-be harm a baby by ingesting drugs? Yes! The same as she could by ingesting any number of perfectly legal items, from alcohol, to drano, to gasoline, and even a gallon or two of water in one go! (A radio show woman died by drinking a few quarts of water in an attempt to win a prize.)

    PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY is what's needs to protect these people, not more draconian laws.

  • ThomasD||

    "Opium, heroin, codeine and morphine all come from opium poppies. While poppy seeds do not actually contain any of these substances..."

    Sigh.

    Opium, and lesser amounts of morphine and codeine come from poppies, so yes they very much can be found in poppy seeds, although for commercial seeds here in the US the quantity is minuscule. Heroin does not come from poppies, it is a synthetic derivatives of morphine (diacetylmorphine to be specific.)

    Laws like these really should not rely solely on ELISA screenings, which can exhibit all sorts of false positives, but instead should be backed up with GCMS for confirmation of both substance and quantity present.

    Part of the blame lies with legislatures, but another group of culprits are the laboratory staff who perform the tests and provide the results along with the companies that produce and provide the test materials. All of whom understand the pitfalls of what they are doing, yet persist in doing it

  • ||

    Laws like these really should not rely solely on ELISA screenings, which can exhibit all sorts of false positives, but instead should be backed up with GCMS for confirmation of both substance and quantity present.

    Jesus H. Christ another one? Are you guys hocking equipment or something? GCMS not only costs more and takes longer and is/can be less robust (as well as more difficult to maintain) but, in this case, isn't in any way diagnostically superior. She ate poppy seeds which you yourself say contain opioids the test is already sufficiently sensitive and spectific. The article says the hospital administrators lowered the detection criteria for reporting. The problem isn't the machines and there's every indication that the amount detected wasn't false, it's the doctor and hospital's policy that's the problem.

  • Flinch||

    Sounds right - policy is a huge weakpoint. In a doctors setting where they hold full credentials [not just a DOT certified flunkie forwarding samples], they are judge and jury. It's a horrible setup because doctors are trained in the cut/burn/poison club and moonlight on the addiction side: a person testing positive in that setting is already seeing a "qualified health professional" and can't bifurcate if the doctor presses - the record is labeled "refused treatment" without pausing if being uncooperative. Answer every question they ask with zero attitude, [even agree to "treatment" to get out the door with minimum damage, but you must skirt a "how often do you use" question/ no apparent admission of use is made]. Afterwards pay for your own test elsewhere... the same day if at all possible. If you "admit" to any usage, you may have dug a hole. Doctor/patient privilege is reasonably guarded, but it is pierceable - info passes to insurer and some government databases without a doctor doing anything illegal in most cases. Lawyer up afterwards to challenge procedure, calibrations, qualifications and anything else they can throw if you are fighting a false positive. If you saw a doctor on your companies dime, expect to be fired first and ask questions later - most HR departments are run by administrative assistants that don't know half the law. There's more than one threshold standard for screening, and false positives are a major career threat however rare they are.

  • kevrob||

    ...cut/burn/poison...

    Jargon used by "natural treatment" advocates, who want to [exaggeration] heal your cancer with crystals and laetrile [/exag]

    Kevin R

  • ThomasD||

    Put simply, you are wrong.

    ELISA screenings are not specific, they generally screen for a group of structurally related moeties (one lock, but multiple keys), and only report positive, or negative. Depending on the specifics of the antibodies used they will report all sorts of false positives (or miss structurally unrelated, but strong opiate substances like meperidine.)

    Even when they are accurate they still do not tell you which of the possible opiate(s) are present, nor how much. Which is why most state drug free workplace laws require that any positive ELISA screenings be followed up with GCMS - which is specific - ie. it will tell you whether the ELISA lit up for hydrocodone or oxycodone AND will give you an exact concentration for each agent detected in the sample.

    That is where threshold levels come from. It might not take a lot of poppy seeds to light up an ELISA, but in order to be over the typical GCMS thresholds set for drug free workplace law you'd also need to have consumed boxes of seeds.

    ELISA does not provide any information about quantity present so CANNOT be used for threshold analysis.

    You wouldn't run GCMS on every sample - only the ones that have a positive ELISA screen.

    On your final point I (sort of) agree. I suspect the administration's decision was cost driven, but that only reinforces that it was incumbent upon the responsible professionals in the lab to speak up.

  • majil||

    Why was this women tested in the first place ?

  • Catch22||

    I am glad that your situation was quickly resolved.

    Unfortunately similar situations happen that do not have a happy ending. I had a similar situation. My son was placed in the ICU for jaundice. When I was released from the hospital 3 days later I was advised that my son would not be joining me because he tested positive for opiates. At that time the hospital refused to give me any type of drug test because they said that it would be out of my system by then.
    I left the hospital with nothing but a child neglect case with social services. My child was put into foster care and was later placed with his father who, by the way did not show up at the hospital until the day I was released although he knew that I was in labor and promised to return to check on me. He had since moved in with a girlfriend who had a stable home. I was in a homeless shelter because I had gotten sick during my pregnancy and lost my apartment.
    I eventually regained legal custody but his father has always retained physical custody.

    My son just turned 18 and It will be another 10 years before I would be able to take in foster children, which is something that I always wanted to do.

    I still have no idea what caused the false positive.

  • Flinch||

    Is it time to form our own Monster Raving Looney party in the US? Not to mimic anything in the UK per se, but in keeping with the notion that "the law is an ass", it's time to roast the morons writing rediculous rules while simultaneously demanding we take them seriously. Only constant laughing and brutal derision of the uniparty [posing as the two party system] can save us now...

  • Davulek||

    My mother died from opioid abuse. I will say this once and I will stand behind it. We, as a nation, need to let people fail and kill themselves if that is what they wish to do. If their kids need to be removed, remove them. There should be no safety net of any kind for people engaging in self-destructive behavior. They should be allowed to kill themselves slowly or quickly, but certainly alone.
    This is the only way people in this country will learn. This is the only way we will achieve higher standards and expectations. This is the only way our species will evolve.
    We used to be this way in America and we were doing well. It was maximum freedom with maximum responsibility. The farther away we've gotten, the worse off we've become.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    this was a Seinfed episode.

  • BrianB||

    Good old hysteria comes through once again. Thanks, government!

  • BrianB||

    Sorry, I meant to say, "thanks, voters", to be more accurate.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online