Author: VWheelock

299. Another Medical Martyr, Dr. Waney Squier (Part Four. The Implications of the Actions by the Tribunal and the Court)

A shortage of expert witnessess The fall-out from these decisions are very serious indeed. Although an expert may genuinely believe that he/she is expressing an opinion based on knowledge and experience, has been properly instructed and has been accepted as an expert by the court, a lay disciplinary tribunal can still override this. Despite the fact that the members of the tribunal themselves lack expertise, they have nevertheless concluded that a physician is providing evidence that is outside her area of competence. Not only that, they have decided that Dr. Squier should be struck off the medical register. Although this was reversed by the High Court, she was banned from acting as an expert witness for a period of three years. Clearly this experience has been extremely difficult and probably traumatic for Dr. Squier. Even more important is the message it sends out to other people who are could act as expert witnesses in other cases involving SBS. In view of the risks to a person’s reputation and career who can blame anyone for declining an invitation to be an expert witness in a case where the determination of the cause of SBS is critical. This is confirmed by the fact that two other SBS sceptics Dr Irene Scheimberg and Dr Marta Cohen have stopped giving evidence. A similar stance has been taken by two supporters of the diagnosis...

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298. Another Medical Martyr, Dr. Waney Squier (Part Three. The Appeal to the High Court)

Appeal to the High Court It is no surprise that Dr.Squier appealed against this decision of the General Medical Council (GMC) in the High Court. The hearing was held in October 2016 and the findings are in this report (1). From Dr. Squier’s perspective, the outcome was something of a mixed bag. The Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal (MPT), which acted on behalf of the GMC was severely criticised but some of the charges against Dr. Squier were upheld. In the introduction, the state of play on Non-accidental Head Injury (NAHI) (an alternative term for SBS) was explained. When Dr. Squier first started work in this field, the opinion of the great majority of those who practised in fields relevant to it – neurosurgeons, radiologists, ophthamologists/ophthalmic pathologists, neuropathologists and forensic pathologists – was that, even in the absence of any sign of other injury, the coincidence of a triad of conditions, subdural haemorrhage, retinal haemorrhage and encephalopathy, was at least strongly indicative NAHI. Dr. Squier initially shared the majority view but, by about 2002, came to doubt it.  Majority opinion has remained essentially the same.  She, as she has always acknowledged, is in the minority. During the case the evidence presented by Dr. Squier in several different cases together with the conclusions and procedures of the MPT were subject to detailed examination. The witnesses The judge noted that the MPT was...

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297. Another Medical Martyr, Dr. Waney Squier (Part Two. The GMC Hearing)

Dr. Squier “struck off” by GMC As part of the campaign initiated by D I Welsh, a complaint was made to the General Medical Council (GMC) about the role of Dr. Squier as an expert witness in court cases involving Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). The GMC conducted a hearing in which the evidence presented by Dr. Squier in these cases was subject to detailed examination. Here is a summary of the findings (1): “The tribunal has determined that you have shown a blatant disregard for the fundamental tenets of the medical profession. You have breached the requirements of Good Medical Practice not only in terms of your honesty and probity, but also in your failure to respect the skills and contributions of your colleagues and recognising the limits of your knowledge and competence in giving evidence. Your attitude towards your colleagues was shocking, openly displaying your disdain for their expertise and opinions. You repeatedly gave evidence both in your reports and in court that fell outside your own field of expertise and competence. You deliberately and dishonestly misinterpreted, misstated and misquoted research literature to support your own opinions. The tribunal considers all these breaches to be very serious. You have caused harm to the reputation of the profession and the tribunal cannot be satisfied that there would be no repetition of your misconduct.” Furthermore: “The tribunal has determined that...

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296. Another Medical Martyr, Dr. Waney Squier (Part One. How it all began)

Background Readers of this website with be all too familiar with the attacks on the scientific competence and reputation of Professor Tim Noakes in South Africa (1). Recently, I listened to a radio broadcast about Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), also referred to as abusive head trauma (AHT) or non-accidental head injury (NAHI) that has a number of striking parallels. This encouraged me to do some digging and as a result I have written this series of blogs. When a baby dies with injuries to the brain the question, the possibility arises that this may have been deliberately caused by a parent or guardian abusing the child by violent shaking. Alternatively it may have been due to a disease or an accidental fall. Obviously it is crucial to reach the correct decision on what happened and why. A wrong conclusion can result in guilty parties not being punished and even worse innocent people being convicted. There is no doubt that it is difficult to reach the right decision. When there is a prosecution, the courts are critically dependent on the input of expert witnesses. In the UK, Dr. Waney Squier, a noted neuropathologist, has acted in this capacity for many years. This is the story. In a trial of Lorraine Harris during 2000, Dr. Squier acted as a prosecution witness and testified that Harris’s son Patrick died as a result...

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295. Vitamin D: Are We Getting Enough?

Rheumatoid arthritis A recent paper reports on research conducted at the University of Birmingham has discovered that maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels may help to prevent the onset of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (1). The scientific paper is available here (2). It was also found that although Vitamin D can help to prevent the onset of inflammation, it is less effective once inflammatory disease is established because diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis leads to vitamin D insensitivity. Because Vitamin D is a potent modulator of the immune system, it can suppress inflammation in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are frequently vitamin D deficient and may receive vitamin D supplementation. When clinicians are using Vitamin D to treat rheumatoid arthritis, they may need to prescribe much higher doses than currently employed. This is just one more example, which indicates that relatively high doses may be needed to ensure that Vitamin D can function effectively. The official recommendations In the UK, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) produced a report entitled “Vitamin D and Health” that was released in July 2016 (3). Prior to this report the recommendations were based on the prevention of rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. A dietary intake of vitamin D was not considered necessary for individuals with adequate exposure to sunlight. For those considered at risk of...

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