Monday, December 3, 2007

Chief Coroner's Office Feared Public Inquiry Would Be Called Back In 2003 Because of Smith's Botched Cases; But Still Kept Him On;

Scrawled notes of a high level meeting held on October 16, 2003, indicate that the Chief Coroner's Office feared that a public inquiry would be called because of the controversy surrounding Dr. Charles Smith.

Former Chief Coroner Dr. James Young called the meeting - at which Smith was present - in the face of unfavourable news stories and mounting attacks on Smith's opinions in the courts.

Young also had to deal with senior officials in his own department who did not want to be associated with fallout over Dr. Smith's views.

The scrawled notes, which appear to have been writ en by a lawyer in the Chief Coroner's Office indicate a concern that Smith had become a "lightning rod" for criticism.

Worse, the notes go on to indicate that the situation had generated to the extent that "even his (Dr. Smith's) name on (a) report causes concerns."

"Fair?" the notes continue. "Probably not but defence smells blood...Possibly battling public inquiry into OCC (Ontario Chief Coroner");

Since Smith had not been allowed to perform medico-legal autopsies since 201, there is a question that cries out to be asked:

Why, in view of his personal disgrace and the threat he was posing to the Chief Coroner's Office, was Dr. Smith permitted to hold on to his title and membership on two important pediatric death review committees until he tendered his resignation by letter dated July 1, 2004, about nine months later.

Other questions abound?

Why wasn't he summarily stripped of his title and committee memberships when he refused to respond to Dr. Young's request at that meeting to resign on the basis that a voluntary resignation would be better for everyone?

(Could it have been because of a fear that this would attract even more unfavourable attention to the Chief Coroner's Office?)

Could Dr. Smith possibly have had some bargaining chip that he was holding over the Chief Coroner's Office? Hmmmmm.

Wasn't any thought being given to the reality that by allowing the status quo to continue the Chief Coroner's Office was allowing Smith to continue referring to his title and committee memberships on his CV as if nothing had happened?

And how fair was that to hospitals in other jurisdictions in North America, or even Europe, that might be thinking of hiring that renowned icon Dr. Charles Randal Smith to help deal with shortages of forensic pediatric pathologists.


Yes, Fair. Fair for Dr. Charles Smith.

Inexplicably fair.

EPILOGUE: On Sept. 11, 2005, Hospital For Sick Children spokesperson Helen Simeon informed the Toronto Star that Dr. Smith had tendered his resignation in July and left the Hospital shortly thereafter for reasons that could not be released.

Dr. Smith had left the Hospital several weeks after Former Chief Coroner, Dr. Barry McLellan had announced his extraordinary review into the death's of more than forty children.

Several months later, it was reported that a friend from medical school had helped Dr. Smith obtain a one-year contract to work as a pathologist in the pathology department of a Saskatoon Hospital doing non-forensic work.

The Saskatoon Health Region Board fired Smith about three months later - after the story of his hiring erupted in the news - saying that it was unaware that he had been subject to the three complaints resulting in a caution in Ontario when it hired him.

(An administrative review panel later ruled that the Health Board had acted improperly but did not reinstate Dr. Smith's temporary license to practice medicine in Saskatchewan.)

He was later rebuked by the Saskatchewan College for failing to disclose his problems in Ontario when he applied for temporary membership so he could take on the City Hospital job.

Harold Levy;;