Family sues hospital for taking away newborn based on incorrect drug test
Published Tuesday, December 31, 2013 6:21PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 1, 2014 5:39PM EST
A Montreal couple is suing the Royal Victoria Hospital for $60,000 after their newborn daughter was removed from her custody to foster care shortly after birth, due to a false positive result on a drug test.
Immediately after giving birth, Royal Victoria Hospital staff informed Isabel Villeneuve that her urine had tested positive for Methamphetamine and opiates and then refused to believe her claims that she had not taken drugs while pregnant.
Only after the test was shown to be incorrect was she was reunited with her daughter Kaia.
Villeneuve now describes going from the most joyous moment of her life to the most traumatizing. Giving birth was, “the most beautiful thing I've ever done. I'm reminded of this and it breaks my heart,” she told CTV Montreal.
After her child was taken away, the pain set in.
“We were a mess, absolutely destroyed,” she said. “I remember we got back to our car that had the car seat in there for like three weeks and that car seat was supposed to have her in it and we came home and I was empty, no more baby, our home was all ready for our baby and there was nothing.”
After six days, officials returned her baby but only on the condition she live together with the baby’s grandparents.
Villeneuve finally got baby Kaia back without strings in April when a more reliable drug test – taken from a strand of hair – proved her claim of being drug free.
Earlier in her pregnancy, Villeneuve had informed her doctor that she had previously smoked marijuana but had stopped once she learned that she was pregnant.
The MUHC issued a writen statement stating that it needs to be vigilant when it comes to ensuring a child’s safety and positive drug tests require the hospital to inform youth protection authorities.
"Healthcare professionals are required to be vigilant for situations that may represent a threat to the safety of a child. A potential concern, such as prior drug use during pregnancy, can trigger additional action by healthcare professionals, which may include ordering tests and counselling. If the outcome of these additional actions highlights irregularities, the healthcare professionals are obliged by both their code of ethics and the youth protection act to inform the Direction de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ). Once the DPJ is involved, they decide what further action, if any, is required, which may include protective custody."
A Royal Victoria Hospital ombudsman's report stated that the urine test is unreliable and posited that the positive result could have stemmed from of medication for acid reflux that Villeneuve was on at the time.
The family's lawyer says the hospital should have taken the time to do more reliable tests
“She has been attacked in what is the most personal manner. Someone thought that she wouldn’t be a good mother,” said family lawyer Jean-Francois Mallette.