Children taken from mom after son falsely test positive for meth; hospital admits error
GRESHAM, Or. — A trip to the emergency room with her son turned into a nightmare experience for a Gresham woman, after a routine test showed her son had methamphetamine in his system.
Chierey Hupp said she took her young son to Legacy Mt. Hood Hospital in August to be treated for a burn to his hand, and a mysterious rash covering his torso.
Hupp said her son’s condition prompted hospital staff to call the Department of Human Services, and doctors ordered her son to be transferred to Randall Children’s Hospital for further treatment.
Once at Randall, Hupp said, a doctor diagnosed her son with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, a common illness in young children, and an accidental burn to his hand.
During her son’s treatment, Hupp said, a nurse informed her she would be testing his urine to determine hydration levels.
“Thirty minutes before they were to release me, they said that I couldn’t take my kids, that DHS was on their way because he tested positive for methamphetamines,” Hupp said.
Hupp said her two children were taken into protective custody, and she was asked to undergo a urine analysis herself, even though she insisted no one in her household used drugs.
Two days later, Hupp said, she got a call from the hospital saying an error had been made.
Her children were returned to her, but Hupp was furious.
“It was pretty humiliating. In front of my whole family, saying that I gave my kid meth,” said Hupp.
A spokesperson for Randall Children’s Hospital said the hospital could not answer specific questions about Hupp’s son’s treatment, even though Hupp had given the hospital permission.
The hospital did release the following statement:
“On occasion, some tests, such as urine drug testing, reveal preliminary information that requires additional testing for confirmation, due to the possibility the test may represent a false positive result. During that time, decisions may need to be made on the preliminary result that are focused on the health and safety of the child.”
Dr. Charles Sailey, Lab Director at Molecular Testing Labs, which routinely performs drug screenings, said false positives are common with initial screenings.
Though he can’t speak to what happened at the hospital, he said there is a standard procedure that is typically supposed to be followed.
“The routine standard of care now is after the screening test is to follow up with a confirmatory test,” said Sailey. “The entire testing process can be done in one day. It depends on how backlogged the laboratory is and how many other samples are in the queue.”
Despite repeated requests for additional information, Randall Children’s Hospital would not comment on its testing process, or what specifically happened with Chierey Hupp’s son’s test, reported KPTV.