A Black mother filed a lawsuit against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center after she claimed the hospital ran a drug test on her urine, without her permission, and then shared its false-positive result with child protective services.
What We Know:
- Cherell Harrington said she had just given birth at UPMC’s Women’s Hospital in November 2017, when medical staff collected her urine and had it tested. The hospital staff went as far as to run the test on her newborn son.
- Although the result came back negative, they still reported her false-positive results to Allegheny County’s Office of Children, Youth, and Families. This sparked a child abuse investigation against her.
- According to The Philadelphia Tribune, Harrington was then subjected to a home visit where a caseworker snapped pictures of her children and asked her then 11-year-old daughter about her mother’s “use of addictive substances”.
- The agency ultimately made a recommendation not to require Harrington to undergo treatment, yet still, the same caseworker obtained her medical records, spoke with her dentist, pediatrician, and officials at her daughter’s school.
- Harrington and a second mother, Deserae Cook, are named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges Cook filled out an in-take questionnaire that asked her if she had smoked marijuana in the past, and she responded that she had but not while pregnant.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Maggie Coleman in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, marks the second lawsuit of its kind to be filed against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center since 2014. The lawsuit claims that there are likely dozens of women with experiences like Harrington and Cook.