2 March 2007

What they don't know won't hurt them - TCH and the bowel scandal

| johnboy
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The Canberra Times has an intriguing story on the aftermath of the un-sterilised rectal sucker scandal at the Canberra Hospital.

It seems that when doing the numbers the Hospital decided not to count children who had died since the procedure.

“A spokeswoman for ACT Health said the “Look Back” process which is tracking down former patients who had undergone the biopsy was extremely complex and time consuming.

“During the process of patient identification it became apparent that some of the children may have died in the time frame of the Look Back,” she said.

“In an effort to avoid causing these families any undue distress, a considered and conscious decision was taken to exclude the families of these patients from the Look Back.”

And also reduce the apparent size of the problem, AND potentially not notify parents to a possible cause of the death of their child!

Handy that.

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quincy is better than csi.

csi plots are too formulaic and predictable.

and quincy lived on a yacht.

I can’t even begin to contemplate the emotions this sorry episode will raise in parents of children who had a procedure using this device over the last 20 years. When you hand your young ones over to the medical staff it is one of the few times their fate is out of your control – to learn that this controllable risk had been overlooked must surely knock even the strongest of these people.

Pathlogost and his/her assistant…and other specialists if necessary. In previous times the Police would chat to the pathlogist as they did the autopsy, outlining the circumstances under which they found the deceased etc etc to help with finding the cause of death.

Nowadays you really only attend if the pathlogist wants to know more, or there are things you couldn’t cover in the paperwork (nothing springs to mind but I’m sure there is).

Police aren’t winesses as such, they are assisting the Coroner through the pathologist. In the ‘old days’ Police attendance was manadatory

Why were you present at so many autopsies if you don’t mind my asking, vg? How many people are usually present? And do you stay for the whole thing? My understanding was that there was the examiner and one, maybe two others there to certify things. Didn’t know there were witnesses, police or otherwise.

I have, but more often than not they need the ad breaks to stretch it out to an hour if its a tricky one.

The shows have been, shall we say, unhelpful in their portrayals of policing. Their unreality is hilarious

But VG, haven’t you seen all those episodes of CSI et al where every case is neatly wrapped up in 48 minutes (excluding commercials)?

Surely that goes on in real life, too?

I have been to at least 15-20. The pathlogist peforming the autopsy is given the full circumstances of the death prior to the examination and the investigation of it is pointed in accordance with what they are told, including relevant medical history.

As an example a body was exhumed in the ACT many years ago after it had, it was believed, died as the result of a car catching fire after an accident. Investigations years down the track got the body exhumed, re-examined, and bullet holes in the head were found which led to a murder conviction.

Evidence of this kind could possibly cause a re-examination of the case. Pathlogists can also make an open, but non-suspicious finding when no foul play is apparent but they just can’t work out why someone died, or why the events occurred trhat ended in death

No, I havn’t attended an autopsy. But I have a huge amount of faith in those performing them. Being facetious, but taking your point to a conclusion, if a deceased child was presented for autopsy and the medical staff were advised that the body had a broken leg, would this be decided as the cause of death, with little further examination?

Apparently other causes of death were found for the deceased children, otherwise one suspects the cases would still be open. Is there any reason to believe that cases may be re-opened because the cause of death was not clear cut?

I’m guessing you’ve never been to an autopsy Cranky. What JB said is spot on. If they know what they might be looking for then they can point their investigation a certain way

You don’t think the performers of the autopsies would like to be apprised of this datum?


Surely any child who has died in the time period of interest will certainly have had an autopsy performed.

One would expect that any suspicion that this rectal sucker could have caused the death would have surfaced pretty quickly. The fact that it didn’t, and that some other explainable cause of death was found, probably means that no deaths are found attributable to the mis-sterilization of the device.

I think this mis-sterilization is bloody awful, and the consequences potentially equally awful. But lets not get too fired up before some solid evidence of catastophe has occurred.

i misread it as ‘THC’ and wondered how they were smoking their joints!

but agree with others – a disaster of the highest order. but will anyone act?

The sad thing is that this kind of incompetence doesn’t surprise me anymore in the ACT.

They’re obviously just following the sterling example set by the ACT Govt of not accepting responsibility for all the cock ups they’ve made.

blingblingbears1:44 pm 02 Mar 07

thats utterly disgraceful…

This makes me want to explode. You gutless f*ckers! You’re incompetence may have killed these people!

Get off your arses and do your jobs and don’t try and buck pass. This is incompetence of the highest order

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