AN investigation into the unreported death of a woman at the Danthonia community, east of Inverell, commenced at Sydney’s District Court yesterday.
Irene Maendel collapsed of a suspected stroke in March 2010 while visiting her son, Chris Maendel, who is a resident doctor with Danthonia.
Dr Maendel and his father, Jake, decided not to send her to a nearby hospital for specialist care.
She was instead kept at Danthonia and given repeated doses of morphine.
She died six days later and was buried on the property, without the police or coroner being informed.
An investigation by Fairfax Media (publisher of The Inverell Times) revealed Dr Maendel’s involvement would be examined by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) disciplinary tribunal.
The hearing began in Sydney’s District Court yesterday.
Two registered nurses and Danthonia members, Andrew Blough and Anthony Fischli, will appear before a separate Nursing and Midwifery Professional Standards Committee hearing in May.
In June 2010 the NSW Police launched an investigation into the death, after complaints from Ms Maendel’s US-based son, James, and his wife, Nicole.
The detective in charge found Ms Maendel was full of life in the days before her death, and at one stage she expressed puzzlement over why she was confined to bed. At an inquest in October 2011, coroner Michael Holmes listed an “inter-cranial haemorrhage with hypertension” as the cause of death.
He refused to address information, submitted as part of the brief of evidence, that questioned whether Ms Maendel’s death had been turned into a “church event”.
Mr Holmes declined to make any recommendations, due to the HCCC inquiry running parallel to the hearing.
That investigation has since found Dr Maendel breached NSW Medical Board guidelines when he treated an immediate family member and signed her death certificate.
At the hearing, he will be asked why he did not take his mother to a specialist neurologist or arrange for a potentially life-saving MRI scan.