Dec 162012

“It’s a legally required test.” – OB nurse to mother who stated that she was NOT consenting to testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI).

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 December 16, 2012  informed consent, L&D Nurse, OB, prenatal  Add comments

  22 Responses to ““It’s A Legally Required Test.””

  1. Would you go get a copy of that legal statute please? I’d love to read it. I’ll wait. While you’re out, could you grab a copy of the patients bill of rights? Thanks so much.

  2. “Then you’ll have to arrest me. Call the police. I’ll wait right here.”

    • Sadly, that’s been done before when a woman declined a C-section. The mother could get in big trouble here with the doctor/nurse on a power trip who might just call the police or child services. :(

      • I don’t think the police can arrest someone when there’s no lawbreaking involved. The nurse may try to call child services, but the nurse knows darned well there’s no law requiring a woman to accept a test. The law requires she offer the test, not that the patient accept what’s being offered.

        As long as you’re sure there really is no law involved, then yeah, call the police. (Note that I’m not talking about places like NY where you can’t legally refuse the eye gunk, or things like that.) The police aren’t hungering for extra paperwork. They’re not going to arrest a woman for refusing a blood test.

        • Unfortunately that’s just not the case. If the RN knows a sympathetic case worker or police officer they’ll arrest first and worry about charges or lack thereof later, they can arrest and hold for 24 hours before they need to bring charges, and people have been ‘arrested’ for all kinds of legal behavior because the arresting officer had a political or social agenda. And a social worker, regardless of law, grab kids all the time on completely bogus grounds. Theoretically this RN could call social services and say mom was putting her child in danger for refusing a ‘medically necessary test’ and the social worker could then decide that, if mom was ‘willing’ to put her inutero child in danger any currently born children *must* be in danger and therefore feel justified in removing them. Now a judge may reverse that 24 hours later, but only after mom’s been drug through hell, kids have been traumatized, family has had to find/pay a lawyer. Regardless of how utterly absurd you may think a threat is, never assume the police/social worker won’t act on it. 99 times out of a hundred the officer/worker contacted will probably laugh and shrug off the bogus complaint, but there isn’t anything that keeps those officers/workers any more insane than the person who makes the initial complaint.

          • According to our laws, a fetus isn’t a baby, thus it doesn’t exist. So, unless they have a court order (which is hard to get on a legal basis) the woman is well within her legal right to refuse. Informed consent/ refusal and the Patient Bill of Rights trump everything beside a court order.

          • Yes, after it plays out in a court of law… However, there have been way too many cases and an ever increasing number of cases where this hasn’t held true until higher courts of law have intervened. Mother’s rights have reigned surpreme in almost all cases that have gotten before a higher judge, however, that takes time and in the meantime a lot of things can happen. In fact some of the lower courts have ruled against mom in favor of the fetus and the doctor’s opinions on treatment. I know of at least three organizations who are working full time on cases involving these issues. It is happening more than any of us would like to believe. In the case of the woman in FL the police came to her house and dragged her to the hospital in active labor. They held the court proceedings in her hospital room without having council for her, she was in no state to defend herself being so far along in the labor process and forced a c section on her. There was a case not too far from me where the hospital sought and got a court order for a c section just because the baby was big. The mom had a history of being able to deliver big babies vaginally in the past, so she refused a c section. Fortunately before the court order took effect, she delivered at another hospital vaginally. The hospital that I delivered at has a court case pending because they called cps who removed the baby from the parents because the parents wanted time to decide on what newborn procedures they would allow because they were being given conflicting information about the baby’s health. (Being in that hospital I can tell you every part of their story rings true as I also couldn’t get any information on my son after he was delivered and taken to the nicu.) Thankfully, the court has decided that there is enough evidence that the hospital acted in a malicious way for them to proceed with the court case. Social workers are given a lot of leeway to determine that a child is endangered and they tend to take a medical doctor’s opinion as the be all end all.

          • In addition to what Ashley mentioned, while a fetus isn’t legally a ‘person’ for the purpose of abortion, it can be viewed as a ‘child’ for the purposes of a family court. Women have and do lose children before their birth, where a social worker will come to the birth and remove the child. I have personally known a person who lost not only her two born children but lost parental rights to her inutero child as well when she sought addiction help for marijuana early in her 3rd pregnancy. They had a court order to remove the child from her care months before birth and the social worker was in the delivery room to take control of the infant immediately after birth. I can think of at least 2 other publicized cases where a social worker ‘took’ an inutero baby even though no illegal action had been done by the mothe, just differences in parenting choices, the mother still retained the legal right to abortion, but with the expectation of birth family courts had already severed parental rights and the child was taken at time of birth. As Ashley said, eventually they got their baby back as a higher court ended up ruling in their favor since, ultimately, there was no legal justification to take the baby, but a day or a week or two months forcefully removed from your newborn is not something you get back. The person I knew, who while was breaking the law by doing marijuana, wasn’t breaking any *parenting* law since it has been repeatedly upheld that *just* doing illegal drugs is not sufficient grounds for removal of a child, still had not regained custody of her 3 children 6 months after the birth of her youngest. She still had very limited visitation, and her 3 children were not all in the same foster care, even though she had completed the court mandated drug treatment, obtained and maintained a job and home, and continued to test negative on her drug screens. They still wouldn’t give her children back and she was trying to find a public defender who would actually fight for her when I moved away from her.
            In short social services and the law often pay little attention to each other.

  3. Yes, you are legally required to do the test. True.
    But I am legally allowed to refuse it, which I know you hate, because it makes a heapload of paperwork for you, but that’s too bad, because it’s your job, and you can’t lie to me to get out of it. Anyway, it proves that you tried and I refused, and that the responsibility of dealing with any possible repercussions is on me, which is fine with me and should be fine with you, too.
    So go scurry and get me that load of paperwork, K, Sweetie?

  4. Nope, I think you got it wrong here nursie poo. It is legally required that YOU OFFER the test and the woman has the right to accept or decline. You also have to give her all the risks versus benefits of the test or procedure so she can make an informed decision. If her decision is to decline, you are legally required to respect that and not try to coerce her into giving consent.

  5. Then you won’t mind if I call my lawyer to make sure of that?

  6. Are there any laws or sanctions against individuals who misrepresent the laws and obligations associated with their profession?

    That would be lovely, if we could report all these people who tell us the law requires them to test us for things, requires them to induce us, requires them to monitor us for twenty minutes per hour, requires us to give birth in places they deem fit, requires us to have cervical exams once a week in the final month of pregnancy…

    It would only take one or two nurses or doctors losing their license or doing fifty hours of community service to stop this kind of thing from going on. Or a major insurance plan de-funding a practice because they’re running up a huge tab forcing women into tests and procedures they didn’t want (and which of course they bill for.)

    Of course, as long as women don’t know their rights, this stuff will keep happening. :-(

  7. Really? Show me the law. Right now. I’ll wait.

  8. Really. I’ll wait here while you scurry off to find that law for me. Don’t worry, I’ve got all the time in the world.

  9. This one is also mine. After the nurse said this I said “oh, that’s funny, it was an optional test with the midwives” (I had used the midwives with my middle and youngest, however, because of my BMI they refused to take me as a patient this time). To which she replied “the midwives don’t do half of what is legally required. That is why we don’t like them.”
    I took the forms but never did the bloodwork. I also intend to tell the OB about how nasty the nurse was with me.

    • You might want to make that complaint over the phone, but not by message, make sure you are speaking directly to the doctor. And don’t step foot in the place again if the doctor defends the nurse. Just saying. I think it is time for a new practice, but that might not be an option for you.

  10. The Great State of Illinois says that if mom declines the test/can’t prove she’s had one with her current pregnancy then the baby gets the test when he or she is born. I have no idea how enforceable that is, but I chose to go ahead and have the test done on myself. I wasn’t planning on my child having any of the in hospital shots/drops/whatever, so I sure wasn’t going to go for an unnecessary newborn blood test. I was also 99.999999% sure that nothing was going to come of the test, but during my first pregnancy I had dreams that I passed on STIs that I contracted from a toilet seat and a swimming pool to my daughter, so… not having those dreams was an added bonus. (Yeah, I don’t have the fun sexytimes dreams when I’m pregnant. I get House Level Medical Emergency Dreams.)

  11. I think it is still unclear and everyone deserves to know the best way to handle this particular situation. The mother has the right to decline but the nurse should explain the risks. The question is what will happen after that.

  12. The thing that is important to remember in this scenario is that STD testing is done on EVERYONE because they can/most likely will be passed to the child with delivery. Some are even passed through the placenta. So, your doc is most likely just looking out for the baby (which is their job) because let’s face it, I’ve known people who have gotten STDs, hepatitis, etc from breaking up fights and getting blood on them, stepping on something, etc. While I think having a choice in the matter is important, sometimes I think it’s important to remember that there’s typically good reasons for the laws & testing they would like you do. I do think they could’ve explained why they wanted to the testing instead of forcing the issue however.

    • Excuse me, but the test isn’t done on EVERYONE. I refused testing on my second, third, and now fourth child. And not all laws are done for good reason but for the majority it’s to combat lawsuits. You really should research more because there’s many fallacies in your statement.

      • Actually, there’s not. And quite frankly, there’s no reason to be rude because I disagree with you. Check out the CDC website for my “fallacies” which explain about how STDs are passed down to the child. I’m not saying you can’t refuse to get tested because you can, but it is recommended for every pregnant woman to get tested because of these reasons of protecting the child. You can do whatever you’d like & think that medical professionals are forcing you because of corruption but my opinion (which I’m entitled to have) is that if it helps to prevent complications with my child, I’ll endure the needle stick or cervical swab. And again, I’m not telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do, just giving the facts as to why STD testing is done.

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