STORY: "All homicide autopsies to get peer review: Rule requiring second look by forensic pathologist takes effect March 1," published by CBC News on March 1, 2012.

GIST: "Changes are being introduced Thursday at Alberta’s medical examiner’s office designed to catch mistakes like those allegedly made by two former Calgary pathologists. Effective March 1 a second set of eyes will review all autopsy reports completed for cases involving homicides. The family of a toddler whose death in 2009 was declared a homicide is now suing for $2 million after the findings of Dr. Michael Belenky were called into question. And the province revealed last month that 13 homicide cases handled by Dr. Evan Matshes are also being reviewed after alleged “unreasonable conclusions” came to light."

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Justice Stephen Goudge addressed the importance of peer review of post-mortem examinations in the report of his inquiry into many of the cases of discredited pathologist Charles Smith, as follows: "Peer review of autopsy reports is essential to an effective quality assurance system. It is quite simply, the best way to assess a pathologist's work in a difficult case before the work enters the criminal justice system. Reports of post-mortem examination in criminally suspicious deaths, particularly pediatric deaths, must receive the highest scrutiny." (Volume 3, page 350.) I wonder how many of the jurisdictions who have provided this Blog with examples of flawed post-mortems leading to wrongful convictions (and occasionally acquittals) have policies requiring meaningful, institutionalized post-mortem review. Indeed, why wait until the errors pile up and threaten public confidence, as in Calgary, before putting the necessary reforms in place?

Harold Levy Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.