Monday, December 26, 2011

Susan Nelles: (Part 1): Important new book by Dr. Gavin Hamilton showing how errors of diagnosis led to an innocent nurse being charged with murder; "The Nurses Are Innocent: The digoxin poisoning fallacy;

PUBLISHER'S VIEW: I am pleased to have the opportunity to devote some space to a newly published book: "The Nurses Are Innocent: The Digoxin Poisoning Fallacy," by Gavin Hamilton M.D. The title refers to the investigation of the deaths of babies at the Hospital for Sick Children in 1980 and 1981 for which a nurse named Susan Nelles was charged with murder. (My first free-lance story for the Toronto Star described Ms. Nelle's discharge at her preliminary hearing). I later wrote in the Star about the public inquiry in which Justice Samuel Grange found that babies had been murdered in spite of testimony which shredded the validity of digoxin tests conducted by Ontario's Centre for Forensic Sciences and raised a significant doubt as to whether any babies had been murdered. Now Dr. Hamilton, a retired radiologist, has, at least in my mind, provided the real reason for the deaths of the unfortunate babies at the renowned hospital: A toxin found in natural rubber which is technically like digoxin, which was used in disposable plastic syringes and intravenous devices. As the late Dr. Peter Macklem, the above noted witness at the Grange Inquiry, says in his preface to this book: "What can be learned from this black stain on Canada's judicial system? One lesson certainly stands out: We cannot ever again allow a group of unqualified amateur diagnosticians to make life and death decisions about such important matters as potential serial murders." Dr. Macklem's comments have me thinking about the so-called arson experts in Texas who concluded with such compelling certainty that Cameron Todd Willingham had set the fire which killed his family - and were proven to have been so terribly, terribly wrong. (Willingham, an innocent man, was executed in Texas). Dr. Hamilton also has a tantalizing theory that a certain now-disgraced pathologist named Charles Smith may have been responsible for turning the tragic deaths into murders. He points out that "In 1980 - which was at the beginning of what was to become known as the digoxin baby poisoning epidemic period, he was hired by the Hospital for Sick Children as an anatomic pathologist - with an expressed keen interest in performing autopsies on children who had died suddenly." (More about that in another post); This book can be purchased through Amazon at:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog