Sunday, April 19, 2015

Daddy's home! And scaring off pregnant women at doctor's offices...

Bill came home yesterday by noon.  He was exhausted, but after a nap, he put together my new bench.  Here he is, enjoying it and the new, but as yet unpaid for, table.

I like how Bill's shirt matches Zane's collar.

Last night, we sat at the table, drank beer, listened to music, and ate cold cuts and pretzel bread.  While we were sitting there, I shared this photo which randomly popped up on my Facebook feed.  A woman I knew in school had posted it with the comment "You've been warned.  No excuses."

I knew this would generate a discussion and it did...

I understand the idea behind this sign and I comprehend why a lot of people are behind its sentiment.  However, while I get why people agree with it, I think it's counterproductive to threaten patients before they've even been seen.  All a sign like this does is tell the pregnant mom who might be using drugs that the doctor would prefer them to go somewhere else for their prenatal care.  I get that could be why the sign was posted.  OB-GYNs typically pay a lot in malpractice insurance and a woman with drug issues could potentially have a riskier pregnancy.  Of course, a druggie mom who is really bad off probably wouldn't bother with prenatal care anyway. 

Those that use drugs recreationally might see a doctor, but if the doctor flat out tells them they will call the law on them, they will very likely go somewhere else.  That may be fine and dandy for the doctor who doesn't have to deal with them, but what about the unborn child?  The sign seems to be advocating for the welfare of the unborn baby, but if the doctor scares off the mother, what good does that do?  And doesn't that sort of conflict with what doctors are supposed to be doing, which is providing healthcare to people who need it?

I happen to be pro-choice, but I couldn't help but notice.  As long as abortion is legal in the United States, it seems kind of ridiculous to take this sort of attitude, anyway.  I mean, the mother to be can kill her unborn child if she wants to.  Using illegal drugs is against the law, anyway.  Why turn it into a crime against an unborn child?  Why does the fact that the mom to be is pregnant even come into it?  She's breaking the law, so deal with her. 

At this point, we don't force people to see their doctors.  People have a hard enough time accessing appropriate medical care for reasons other than being threatened and alienated.  This attitude of needing to police private citizens is creepy to me, and in the long run, I don't think it makes things better for anybody.  Of course a pregnant woman shouldn't be using drugs and something should be done if she comes up positive on a drug screen.  I think the attitude toward her should be more supportive and helpful, not threatening.    

Besides...  a woman whose newborn baby comes up positive on a drug screen at the hospital is going to be referred to CPS anyway.  All that does is encourage the mother to give birth in an alley.

Here's another thought.  For most medical procedures, physicians must get informed consent before they go ahead with it.  I suppose a sign like this informs patients that the doctor(s) at this practice will do random drug screens and gives them the option of going elsewhere.  But what about health care professionals that do screenings without the patient's knowledge or consent?  Isn't that a violation of their rights?

I know there have been cases in which mothers have been arrested for having positive drug screens and have gone to court.  In South Carolina, there was a big case involving pregnant women who were tested for drugs without their knowledge or consent.  It went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the search in question was unreasonable, especially since the searches had the potential to land someone in jail.

In any case, while I certainly wouldn't condone a pregnant woman using drugs and I agree something should be done to help or dissuade drug abusing pregnant women, I don't think taking an adversarial, threatening attitude is in the best interest of patients.  The goal shouldn't be to sell mom down the river; it should be to get her appropriate help so she can successfully raise her child.  I think it would be hard to do that by getting the police and child protective services involved from the get go.  


  1. Is Arran still doing OK?

    It would seem that the doctor is trying to scare off recreation drug users, which i understand from the risky pregnancy/malpractice standpoint. On the other hand, if every doctor posted such a sign,, a lot more women would receive no prenatal care. i'd have to agree with you that the positive tox screen on the baby at the hospital is sufficient.

  2. Arran is still fine. Zane was fussy about his breakfast this morning, which isn't altogether abnormal for him.

    And yeah, I agree that the doc wants the druggies to go elsewhere.


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