Friday, July 5, 2013

Nanogram Measuring of Opiates

This is a sad article from the July 2, 2013 Washington Post, about a woman whose newborn daughter was taken away because the mother tested positive for opiates when she went to the hospital to give birth:
PITTSBURGH — A woman who had her newborn taken away because she failed a hospital drug test after she ate a poppy seed bagel 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.
The county figured out within a few days that indeed, she was not a drug user, but a poppy seed bagel user instead.  How sensitive are these tests?
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.
For those who aren't used to working in nanograms -- that means that there were 300 billionths of a gram of opiate byproducts in a milliliter of some bodily fluid of Ms. Mort.


  1. Agntsa.
    The opiate test that detects all opiates including those from poppy seed muffin consumption is the cheap test. The test that distinguishes between poppy seed muffins and Afghanistan Deficit Reducer is more expensive and our esteemed public servants know or should know this, so that only positives for the cheap test get the expensive test. Anybody administering the first test should know this distinction and failure to know and act accordingly is not excuseable. Payment after lawsuit is in order here. It's actually a good thing this mother has changed her name to "Plaintiff."

  2. Thanks Wendy! Put that on the list of questions dad routinely asks when picking a hospital for baby to be born in.

    Thanks prohibitionists!

  3. This isn't even a prohibitionist problem; this is a "we're too stupid to realize that this is only a first screen type of opiate test" problem. You would expect better of a hospital.

  4. Yes. If the hospital personnel, or whoever they send this thing out to doesn't know this, I wonder what else they don't know.