Mother Sues Hospital For Analysis Without Her Son’s Consent

A mother sued a Pittsburgh hospital who, according to her, did a urine test without her consent to determine the presence of drugs. The hospital reported a false positive to the child protection service, which investigated it for child abuse.

It is the second similar lawsuit to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPCM) since 2014. Ethical lawsuits or complaints have been filed across the United States over false positives of immediate-result urine tests and have led to investigations of abused and turned the joy of giving birth into a nightmare of custody struggles.

Cherell Harrington, who filed the lawsuit Wednesday, gave birth to her third baby at UPCM’s Magee Hospital in November 2017. She says medical staff took a urine sample without her consent and analyzed it for drugs. .


An unconfirmed result tested positive for marijuana components. The staff then analyzed the baby’s urine, which was negative, but sent the unconfirmed results to the Allegheny County Office of Child, Youth and Family Care.

An employee of the office visited the Harrington home, photographed the children and asked the 11-year-old daughter about the “consumption of addictive substances” by the mother. Despite a recommendation not to require treatment, the employee obtained medical records, called her dentist, her pediatrician and the girl’s school.

Harrington said she was threatened with further mandatory long-term examinations if she did not submit to the program and contacts. He says in his lawsuit that the hospital and the municipality violated his constitutional rights and his right to medical privacy.

Orders were left to UPMC and Allegheny County, which is another defendant, to know their position, but did not respond at the moment.

Laws on analysis for new mothers and newborns vary from state to state: some penalize positive results and others consider them evidence of child abuse.

Lawsuits or ethical complaints have been filed in New York, California, Alabama and Maryland, among other states, of mothers who say they tested false or not confirmed by eating bagels with poppy seeds, taking Valium under a prescription or using inhalers to asthma.