The Nurses Are Innocent

Overview

Gavin Hamilton’s research shows that a toxin found in natural rubber might well have been the culprit in the 43 babies’ deaths at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children in 1980–81.

In 1980-81, 43 babies died at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children from a supposed digoxin overdose. Serial murder was suspected, leading to the arrest of nurse Susan Nelles. In order to clear Nelles’s name, an investigation was launched to find an alternate explanation.

No one on the Grange Royal Commission of Inquiry had expertise in diagnosis. The post-mortem diagnosis of digoxin poisoning was based on a single biochemical test without knowledge of the normal values. Gavin Hamilton’s extensive research shows that a toxin found in natural rubber, a digoxin-like substance, might well have been the culprit in the babies’ deaths. He clearly demonstrates that explanations other than serial murder account for the cluster of infant deaths at HSC.

What can be learned from this black stain on Canada’s judicial system? One lesson certainly stands out: we can’t ever again allow a group of unqualified amateur diagnosticians make life-and-death decisions about such important matters as potential serial murders.

Reviews

...The real parallel remains unknown to most Canadians even now; it's not that the wrong person was fingered for murder, but that no murders were committed at all. That's the conclusion meticulously and persuasively argued by retired physician Gavin Hamilton in The Nurses are Innocent.

Maclean’s magazine

About the Author

Gavin Hamilton

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
Gavin Hamilton photo

Gavin Hamilton

Gavin Hamilton grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario for medicine. He studied family practice for nine years, obtained a fellowship diploma in radiology, and retired as an assistant professor. He lives in London, Ontario.