Madelyn's Law- Require full lab results before hospitals can notify DHR
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December 22,2016, my family faced the loss of my niece, Madelyn. My sister's placenta had ruptured in her 8th month of pregnancy,which killed my unborn neice. After a few pints of blood and an emergency c-section, Madelyn was stillborn and absolutely beautiful.
That day was horrible and traumatic for all of us, but at the time we did not know that the worst was yet to come.
Hospital standards are to test the urine of the mother for various reasons (including drugs) when a fetus is in distress. The following day, the nurse asked my sister if she knew that she had tested positive for amphetamines during the routine drug screening. She had no idea as she is not a drug user. Shortly after, a DHR worker came to interview all of the family and my sister. We were all grieving the loss of Madelyn, right at Christmas time, and now we were all under scrutiny from a government agency over something we all knew was not possible.
The DHR caseworker asked all that were willing to accompany her to the county office for drug screening for the placement of my sister's other child, Micah, who was also required to come with us.
The testing for myself, my mother, and my sister's father finally concluded around 3pm. Due to the time, our results could not be lab verified until the following week due to the Christmas holiday. DHR took my nephew to a foster home, solely based on a URINE drug screen. We spent Christmas extremely sad as we had not only lost Madelyn, but Micah was now gone as well.
After hiring an attorney and a court appearance, Judge Kim Taylor of Alexander City, required my sister to submit to hair follicle testing. Due to the distance I lived away from Tallapoosa County and the amount of time it would take my home county of Tuscaloosa to do a home study, DHR requested that my nephew be left in foster care until the results were in. My sister went to the required lab for testing on the morning of her daughter's funeral.
Multiple times, my sister and our family requested supervised visitation with Micah. Each time we were met with "We have other appointments scheduled, it's not a good time, call tomorrow " When we followed instructions, our calls went unanswered or we were met with the same excuse. For two weeks, we did not see Micah or know who he was with and if he was OK.
Finally, the results came in. My sister's positive drug screen was a result of her Obstetrician prescribed medication PHENEGRAN, a medication used to treat nausea and vomiting.
The saddest part is that this all could have been prevented if HOSPITALS WERE REQUIRED TO HAVE A BLOOD TEST,rather than urine only, in the case of fetal death or distress. This medication was noted in my sister's chart, however most nurses/doctors I have spoken are not aware that it can CAUSE FALSE POSITIVES FOR AMPHETAMINES, despite extensive and proven/trusted research.
We are asking for support for "Madelyn's Law" which would require hospitals to have BLOOD proof that the presence of a drug in a mother's system is in fact a street drug, rather than a prescribed drug that can cause a false positive, before notifying the Department of Human Resources /Child Protective Services. Had the hospital performed more than a urine screening only, it could have saved an entire family from the burden of undue stress and heartache when we were already facing so much.
Furthermore, it could have saved the state of Alabama money in its pursuance of a dead end case.
Please help us prevent this from happening to another family!
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