Hospital Investigates New Mom For Drug Use After Poppy Seeds Cause False Positive; Mom Sues

| by Allison Geller

A new mother is suing her Pennsylvania hospital for accusing her of drug use when she failed a drug test for eating poppy seed bread.

“I just delivered and it's supposed to be this beautiful, wonderful, happy time and I'm being accused of something that's completely ridiculous," Rachel Devore, 31, told The Associated Press. "To be accused of physically and purposely harming your child is a very tough accusation to swallow.”

Tough, indeed. Poppy seeds are notorious for causing people to fail drug tests since opiates like heroin are made from them. Devore was baffled about her failed test until she was eating the same kind of bread a few weeks later—and saw the seeds.

When Devore’s urine test—taken without her knowledge or consent—returned an “unconfirmed” result, the Magee-Women's Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center referred her case to Allegheny County's Office of Children, Youth and Families, beginning an investigation the Devores called “highly intrusive.”

Just hours after giving birth, a nurse took a urine sample from Devore’s newborn and monitored it for withdrawal. A CYF investigator made Devore sign a “safety plan” and agree to surrendering parental rights to her husband if she failed another drug test. The CYF continued to visit the Devores’ home and recommend random drug tests in the future.

All for eating a slice of bread.

“It's hard, especially when you had a perfectly healthy pregnancy. I took steps to be that good mom and they are accusing me of doing something that is just heartbreaking. It's hard,” Devore said.

Devore is suing the medical center for defamation and violation of doctor-patient confidentiality.

"The Devores are very, very fortunate that CYF didn't take their baby away and UPMC knows that risk exists whenever they make one of these reports," said Devore’s lawyer, Margaret Coleman.

The CYF eventually did rescind its requirement of further drug tests, but the case has not been officially closed.

Sources: Associated Press, Post-Gazette, WPXI