Death of a believer



The Sydney Morning Herald reports…

“Australia’s media watchdog has reprimanded Channel Seven’s Today Tonight for inaccurately suggesting a doctor treated his dying mother with prayer and hymns, rather than medical care.

The segment, “Death of a Believer”, first aired in March last year, reported on a woman who died after a stroke in 2010 while living in a religious community near Inverell, in northern NSW. 

The 11-minute story suggested Irene Maendel’s church community, the Bruderhof, and her doctor son, Chris Maendel, failed to provide adequate medical care, preferring prayer and singing.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority ruled this claim breached the accuracy requirements in the act governing commercial television.

Shortly before the story went to air, a medical tribunal had found Dr Maendel guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct for not taking his mother to hospital for CT scans. 

But the tribunal found him not guilty of the more severe charge of misconduct.

Dr Maendel had provided competent palliative care, believing his mother would not have wanted aggressive treatment. He had not opted for palliative care on the basis of any church belief. 

An ACMA spokesperson said the case had been highly complex, with dozens of aspects to consider. 

Channel Seven agreed to remove the segment from its websites and link to the ACMA decision for three months. 
The ruling will feature in future Channel Seven training.”

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