Motherisk drug-testing program shut down by SickKids hospital
Lawyer says faulty tests may have led to wrongful convictions
A controversial drug-testing program at Sick Kids hospital has been shut down and will not be reinstated, the hospital announced Friday.
The Hospital for Sick Children's Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory's program was suspended, and has now been shut down, after questions emerged about the reliability of its hair-testing method used in criminal and child protection cases between 2005 and 2010.
On March 5, the hospital suspended the program after a provincial review of the program questioned the accuracy of the testing. Now, the hospital said in a news release, "questions and concerns have been further explored and validated," and it has decided to not reinstate the program.
The problems with Motherisk's testing were put into the spotlight last October, when the Ontario Court of Appeal quashed Tamara Broomfield's 2009 conviction for giving her two-year-old son, Malique, a near lethal dose of cocaine because of differing scientific opinions about the validity of the hair testing performed by Motherisk. Broomfield was given a seven-year sentence.
James Lockyer, a lawyer with the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, said he has concerns about Motherisk's tests.
"There may be cases of parents having custody or access to their children on the grounds that they had been using drugs or alcohol based on Motherisk results," he said.
Susan Lang, a retired Ontario Court of Appeal judge, is leading an independent review of the program at the province's request and will submit a report to the Attorney General that's set to be made public on June 30.
The province has said it is possible Lang will recommend reviewing more specific cases.