All homicide autopsies to get peer review
Rule requiring second look by forensic pathologist takes effect March 1
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.
Requiring a second pathologist to review autopsies should highlight any inconsistencies right away, said Dr. Anny Sauvageau, the province's chief medical examiner.
"And depending on what was done, was found ... we would then address the problems inside the office quicker if we were to see there was a problem with an individual or a type of case," she said.
Dr. John Butt, who established Alberta’s medical examiner system in the 1980s, said it is unfortunate it took mistakes to prompt the additional peer review. But he applauds the changes.
"It’s a good thing, these things evolve and I think it’s the right thing to be doing," he said.
The second pathologist will be randomly selected from within the province and will add up to a month to the process.