Reveal – a daily look at the shadowy world of disease and medical research – is running a podcast that is full of information about Parekh’s history, as a pathologist who was hired to review not just all the death certificates but many other death records as well. The soon-to-be former head of Toronto’s hospitals acknowledged that hundreds of death certificates he reviewed do not necessarily show an apparent cause of death. A lawyer for family members recently revealed that Parekh had been hired by Ontario’s public health agency to examine hundreds of death certificates. The lawyers’ investigation led them to request that he resign, citing reports about his history of interpreting death certificates incorrectly and suggesting other inappropriate conclusions.
Even at his most senior position in the middle of the criminal justice system, the coroner was required to follow established protocol. A letter from the Ontario Public Health Services Authority stated that “a standard inspection of the coroner’s office should take place when a coroners office is considering placing a new pathologist into a position of direct supervision and responsibility.” Dr Parekh was eventually removed from his position at Ontario’s public health agency in March 2015, as it launched its own investigation into the case.
Ontario’s public health authority told investigators that Parekh “had not been followed up” after his initial inspection. Dr Elizabeth Clarke, a pathologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, provided the coroner with a verbal briefing on the meaning of death certificates, in which she was asked for clarification on a specific legal term, “resuscitation or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.” But this was not the same as an investigation.
Ontario’s public health agency assured the coroner in its standard inspection, as well as his lawyer during the investigation, that it had interviewed Dr Parekh about his autopsy reports, as well as health officials and other witnesses regarding the death certificates. But the public health agency refused to be publicly forthcoming about its investigation in April 2016, citing the sensitivity of the matter. Documents filed with Ontario’s police service show that homicide investigators were given the Parekh transcripts, and completed a physical search at the coroner’s office to find potential witnesses, but nothing was found.