Friday, September 26, 2008


As high noon (October 1, 2008) approaches I am focusing on some of the more startling revelations that rocked the Goudge Inquiry;

In recent weeks I have touched several startling revelations, including:

0: The introduction of an affidavit from Provincial Court Judge Patrick Dunn which contradicts evidence given by Dr. Smith to the Commission; The intervention of a judge into a public inquiry is an extremely rare event;

0: Introduction from a letter from the Ontario Provincial Police to the Chief Coroner Dr. James Young alleging that Dr. Smith had attempted to intimidate an officer into not giving him a speeding ticket.

0: Dr. Smith's admission of bias; I always viewed Dr. Smith as a cheerleader for the prosecution - but I never dreamed that he would actually admit that he believed his job was to help the prosecution win the case. My only question was how far he would go to make this happen.

0: Maxine Johnson's potentially devastating testimony that she discovered the missing Mullins-Johnson's slides on a shelf in a location in Dr. Smith's office at the Hospital for Sick Children that had been searched months earlier;

0: Unexpected introduction by a letter from the Barrie, Ontario Police Service, which indicated that Smith, with the support of the Chief Coroner's Office, had agreed to participate in an electronic surveillance operation involving the mother of a deceased child.

0: Evidence of a damage control meeting conducted by the Hospital for Sick Children SCAN team following the rejection of its evidence - together with the evidence given by Dr. Charles Smith - by Judge Patrick Dunn in the Amber case.

0: Evidence that prosecutor did not inform Dinesh Kumar's lawyer about Judge Patrick Dunn's searing critique of the evidence given by Dr. Smith and the Hospital for Sick Children SCAN-Team before insisting on a guilty plea to criminal negligence causing his son's death.

0: Evidence that the prosecutors insisted on this plea - as an alternative to the Crown proceeding on the second-degree murder charge - even though Dr. Smith had informed the police that he and Dr. Dirk Huyer of the SCAN-Team were not sure that there was any criminality in the case;

0: Former Chief Coroner Dr. James Young's testimony that he sent under his own signature a letter drafted by Dr. Smith's lawyers (McCarthy Tetrault) to an investigator for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario which was probing three complaints against Smith. The letter was fully supportive of Dr. Smith.

0: Evidence given to the Goudge Inquiry by College of Physicians and Surgeons investigator Michele Mann which directly and unequivocally contradicted Dr. Young's sworn testimony that he was not aware that Judge Dunn's decision was highly critical of the evidence given by Dr. Smith and the Hospital for Sick Children SCAN team in the Amber case;

0: Dr. Young's testimony that he arranged for public funds to be provided to Dr. Smith to help fund a libel suit against the CBC in connection with a groundbreaking Fifth Estate documentary which showed both Smith and the Chief Coroner's office in a very poor light;

Today's starting revelations relate to Dr. Smith's dangerously flawed work and work habits at the Hospital for Sick Children - and the Hospital's failure to bring his flawed work to the attention of the College of Physicians and Surgeons or the Chief Coroners office.

I covered this subject matter in a post called "More Blame Game: Former Secretary testifies Dr. Charles Smith Blamed Staff For His Failure To Respond Promptly To Phone Calls," which ran on December 26, 2007;

The post was topped by the following quote:



"In a previous Blog I reported Maxine Johnson's testimony at the Goudge Inquiry that she was upset to learn that Dr. Smith had blamed a lack of administrative resources for his failure to produce key reports on time," the post began. (See previous posting: The Blame Game: Dr. Charles Smith's dubious claim that his reports were delayed because of lack of administrative support.)

Johnson, who initially served in a secretarial pool that assisted the pathologists at the Hospital For Sick Children, and later worked directly for him, also testified that Smith blamed the secretarial staff for the many calls from people such as prosecutors, police officers, and anxious family members, that he did not return," it continued;

"Johnson told Commissioner Stephen Goudge that the secretaries developed a special system for drawing the messages to his attention: They attached them to his computer monitor with Scotch tape.

She explained to Commission Counsel Robert Centa that they took this precaution: "Because we -- the secretaries always seem to, sort of, be blamed for him notgetting his messages.

He would say, Oh, I didn't get the message.

So we developed a -- a system, whereas -- if you put it on his computer; we always know that he's going to sit in his chair and turn around to his computer screen, so the message would be there.

And if the computer screen was full, which sometimes it was, we would put it on his chair, because he'd have to remove it to be able to sit, so he would definitely get the message.

Johnson also expressed the staff's concern that important requests made by Smith's colleagues at the Hospital for the results Dr. Smith had conducted on specimens from living patients were languishing without response.

For example, Centa showed her an email sent to Dr. Smith, with a blind copy to her, dated February 20, 2002, which read, in part: "Dr. Grant and his staff has been calling several times to get results on specimens since December. They state that this is a, 'HAM/ONC (Hematology/Oncology) Case'."

Johnson agreed with Centa that the delay was serious because the results were needed in order to proceed for possible radiation treatment and ..."it's a very long time for surgical specimens to still be signed-out.

She responded to the urgency by sending a copy of the email to the late Dr. Larry Becker, who was head of the Hospital's Pathology Department at the time, in order to prompt his intervention.

"There were ongoing issues in terms of Dr. Smith getting his reports out in a timely manner at the time," Johnson said.

Johnson's testimony appears to back up the comment of an unnamed senior official of the Chief Coroner's Office who observed at a high level meeting that Dr. Smith would not take responsibility for his acts - and tended to blame others.

This Bloggist cannot understand why the famed Hospital did not fire Smith years earlier in the face of its knowledge of his well documented pattern of delays which posed significant risks to the safety and treatment of its trusting patients and their families."

Where was its sense of responsibility?:

Other startling disclosures relating to Dr. Smith's work on the hospital side in connection with living patients;

0: A letter to the head of the pathology department at Sick Kids from several of Dr. Smith's colleagues who complain that Dr. Smith has misinterpreted the tissue samples taken from young patients in several cases;

0: A letter addressed to Dr. Smith from the head of pathology department which curtails the nature of the work he is permitted to do, lowers his salary accordingly and also requires him to take some courses. (It does not appear from the evidence that this letter was ever sent by the Hospital to Dr. Smith;):

0: Evidence that Dr. Smith backdated reports to make it appear that his work relating to the hospital's patients had been done in a more punctual manner. (It suggests that Dr. Smith was dishonest in both his work for the Coroner's office and that performed as a staff member of the hospital;)

0: Evidence that the deficiencies in Dr. Smith's work for the hospital were never brought to the attention of the Chief Coroner's Office - or to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the regulatory body of the self-governing medical profession in Ontario;