Bagels Caused Drug Tests to Be Positive, Women Say

Civil rights complaint says hospitals launched investigations based on bad results
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2023 4:23 PM CDT
New Mothers Blame Results of Drug Tests on Bagels

It was the poppy seeds on their breakfast bagels, say two New Jersey women who tested positive for opiate use. But the issue isn't so much the false positives as it is the drug tests. The women say they didn't consent to the tests during their hospital stays, the Guardian reports. When the hospitals received the test results, investigations of the women on suspicion of possible neglect or abuse were launched—days after the new mothers had given birth. With the support of the ACLU, the two women have filed separate civil rights complaints against Hackensack University Medical Center and Virtua Voorhees Hospital.

"I feel violated," one of the women said in a statement. "This whole ordeal has been extremely stressful and has turned our lives upside down and now, because of what happened, I live in fear of medical tests and how they might be used against me as a mother." The other woman said in her complaint that the neonatal intensive care unit kept her newborn longer than was medically necessary. She was told her daughter needed to be monitored, though every test result was normal. "I knew she was fine," she said. The trauma lingers, the woman said. "Every time I think about [my baby] being born, this is what will be at the forefront of my mind."

Molly Linhorst, an ACLU staff attorney, said similar testing could be taking place in other hospitals, per the New Jersey Monitor; the two named in the complaints are in different parts of the state. "And it creates this pipeline into invasive, unnecessary state investigations that are really traumatic for the people who experience them, especially when they just gave birth," she said. The poppy seed issue isn't clear-cut. Some experts think ingestion can't lead to a positive drug test, but the USDA says it might. The Defense Department advises service members to avoid consuming poppy seeds before a drug test. The complaints also say the hospitals tested for a threshold much lower than the federal government uses. (More drug testing stories.)

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