Doctor says he should have sought aid before mother’s death

ChrisExperienced doctor Chris Maendel told a court on Wednesday he was following his mother’s wishes when he chose not to seek expert medical help that might have saved her life.

Irene and Jake Maendel were on a 12-month trip from America in 2010, visiting Dr Maendel at the Bruderhof Christian community when she collapsed at their northern NSW property on March 2.

As the community’s resident doctor, he stabilised his mother. But after diagnosing a possible stroke, he decided – in consultation with his father – not to transport her to a nearby hospital.

Mrs Maendel was kept on the Bruderhof property. When one of Dr Maendel’s brothers in the US begged him to take her to hospital, he assured him their mother was ”surrounded by the love of Jesus”.

After six days, she died and was buried on site. Dr Maendel filled out her death certificate. Neither the police nor the coroner were told.

In a NSW Medical Tribunal at Sydney’s District Court on Wednesday, Dr Maendel confirmed on the 15 to 20 previous occasions he had diagnosed a suspected stroke, he had sent patients for the ”appropriate” CT scan. All except his mother.

He admitted he was guilty of unsatisfactory conduct when he failed to consult a specialist, transfer her to a hospital or take ”any steps” to seek independent advice.

He stated he made ”some assumptions” when he diagnosed a subarachnoid haemorrhage and determined chances of recovery as ”poor” – even with treatment.

He agreed he failed to review that decision, even when she regained consciousness and was awake, smiling, speaking, recognising others and asking: ”Am I sick?”

Dr Maendel said he accepted he should have sought assistance but added he was concerned he could not then have ensured her ”wishes were respected”. When asked what those wishes were, he said: ”In the event of a dire prognosis, she did not want to be transported away from her faith and the community.”

When asked whether he and his mother had discussed what should happen if she suffered a stroke, Dr Maendel replied: ”Not specifically,” adding he had gained ”an understanding of her thinking based on multiple conversations”.

Danthonia senior pastor Randall Gauger said the Brunderhof “embraces medical science” and provides members “access to highly skilled doctors and other medical personnel.”

“Like anywhere else in Australia, in our community people make their own healthcare decisions on advice from their doctors. If someone is incapacitated, then decisions are typically made by a spouse or family member after receiving medical advice,” he said. Mr Gauger also said that if a community member were terminally ill and chose palliative care over medical intervention, “that decision would be respected.”

“We are a Christian community, and anyone wanting to know more about how we live and practice our faith is welcome to get in touch through the Bruderhof website,” Mr Gauger said.

The hearing continues.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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