Channel Seven has been found in breach of the Commercial Television Code of Practice after a story aired on Today Tonight last year gave the wrong impression about the standard of medical care provided to a elderly female member of a small Christian sect, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has ruled.
The March 12 segment related to the death of Irene Maendel, who died six days after suffering a stroke in a farm near the New South Wales/Queensland border. She was treated on site by her son, qualified doctor Chris Maendel, who did not take her to hospital for treatment and who also signed her death certificate after she had died. A New South Wales medical tribunal ruling released before the segment aired found he had provided competent palliative care for his mother, driven by the belief that she would not want aggressive medical treatment. But the Today Tonight segment, ACMA ruled, gave the inaccurate impression that Chris Maendel and others “had treated [Irene Maendel] with prayer and hymn singing as a substitute for medical care”.