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Never Admit a Mistake

February 7, 2012 permalink

While her husband was returning from military service in Kuwait, April Blair gave birth by herself at the Harbin clinic in Georgia. Twice in the months before birth they tested April for drugs and the tests came back positive for methamphetamine. The clinic never warned her, and in spite of a third negative test on the day of birth the clinic notified authorities. The baby was seized minutes after birth and Georgia DCFS forced the mother to give up custody to relatives rather than face court action. A reporter found that there was no security on samples during testing. DCFS refuses to treat the case as a mistake and is still struggling with the family over custody of six-month-old baby Makayla.



Military family fights for child's custody, blames "erroneous" test


A military family, speaking only with CBS Atlanta News, said their life has been turned upside down following what they said was a major medical error. Their newborn daughter was nearly ripped out of their hands after a clinic secretly drug tested the Army sergeant's pregnant wife.

But was the test result wrong?

"It was four minutes after she was born. The nurse comes to me and says, 'You know what you've done. Why don't you admit what you've done.' I asked her what she was talking about," April Blair said.

April Blair should have been celebrating the birth of her daughter, but instead for the last seven months, she and her Army medic husband have been fighting to keep custody of their child.

"I didn't know what to do. I was in labor, had a child by myself, my husband was on his way home from Kuwait. I was scared out of my mind," April Blair said.

It was the first indication April Blair had that anything was wrong. Then the nurse delivered more terrifying news.

"They tell me DFACS is going to come, and they are going to take my child because they have the right to, and for me to admit what I did to make it easier on myself," April Blair said.

April Blair said she was never told she was being drug tested or about, what she said, were incorrect results.

"They tested her in May and July, just a few days prior to my daughter's birth, for methamphetamine use and allege that she tested positive on those two separate occasions," Army medic Fred Blair said.

"If they thought that, then why didn't they offer me help?" his wife cried.

A third drug test was done the day Makayla was born and confirmed both the baby and mother were fine. There were no signs of drugs in either of their systems.

April Blair said she did not do drugs during her pregnancy.

"Absolutely not," she said.

"There is no way she would have tested totally negative there would have been some trace evidence of methamphetamines in my daughter's system. That is what I was told," Fred Blair said.

But the damage was already done. The clinic had called the Department of Children and Family Services, and DFCS threatened to take Blair's daughter away that same day.

"I had to take my daughter and place her into temporary guardianship of a family member just in order for them not to file a petition for custody of my child," Fred Blair said.

Saltzman asked Harbin Clinic Medical Director Alfonso Diaz if it is legal to drug test a patient without their permission.

When CBS Atlanta News contacted Harbin Clinic, Diaz refused to speak. But in a letter to the family, the clinic said there may have been a mistake.

"They would have up to five cups of urine sitting in this lab window, no top, no way to secure it," Fred Blair said.

The clinic confirmed their urine tests "are not performed through a chain of custody," and are supposed to be only used for their "information." Due to "the process used at the time," they said "the results cannot be verified, and may have resulted in an erroneous report."

"This is malpractice. You can't just do this to someone. You can't drug test someone, never notify them," Fred Blair said.

The clinic apologized, and said they have changed their process to avoid this situation in the future. They also offered to contact DFCS to correct the mistake, but Fred Blair said they never did.

"They stole the first month of my child's life from me. I will never regain that," Fred Blair said.

And the Blairs are still left fighting DFCS for legal custody of their child.

"My main focus right now is just to make sure no one has to go through what we had to go through," Fred Blair said.

Click here to read Harbin Clinic's Response local copy pdf.

Source: WGCL-TV CBS Atlanta