A Montreal couple is suing the Royal Victoria Hospital for $60,000 damages over a false-positive drug test that led to the seizure of a newborn daughter by child welfare authorities.
"Nobody sees what we go through, and I want someone to be held accountable for this because it isn't fair. It never has been," said Isabel Villeneuve.
A day after Villeneuve, 25, gave birth to her daughter Kaia in January 2013, she was told her urine tested positive for methamphetamines and opiates.
Villeneuve insisted she had not taken drugs recently, but she was flagged for the test because she had admitted to using marijuana early in her pregnancy. She stopped after her first visit to a prenatal clinic and willingly took the test at the hospital.
Villeneuve said the positive drug test was due to acid reflux medication she’d been prescribed by her doctor — a drug sometimes known to cause false positives.
A second test on the same sample also yielded a faint positive.
The case was referred to youth protection, and Kaia was put in the care of a foster family.
The baby was returned six days later.
The family later obtained a copy of a report on the incident filed by the MUHC's complaint commissioner.
The report states that the hospital should have administered a separate second test that is known to give reliable results.
The hospital has yet to apologize, Villeneuve said, although it did issue a statement in May acknowledging that false-positive tests on any medical blood test can lead to "unnecessary stress."
The hospital would not comment on the lawsuit.
Villeneuve's lawyer, Jean-François Mallette, said he was shocked when he heard the family's story.
He said the test itself is flawed, and no other family should have to go through the same ordeal.
"The evidence shows clearly that the results for the urine test cannot be relied [on] for medical or legal purposes," he said.
"On the sole basis of those results, they took the important decision of signalling the baby to [youth protection]."
The lawyer filed the suit against the hospital last week.
Villeneuve says although youth protection dropped the case against them, her daughter still has a file there.
"A lot of people see my husband and I being happy, but you don't see the nights, you don't see the terror I go through if ever I have to bring my daughter to the clinic," she said.
"I just want someone to be held accountable."