Inquest into stroke bogs down
By GAY ABBATE
Thursday, May 16, 2002 Print Edition, Page A21
Strange twists and turns continue to bog down the coroner's inquest that is looking at a possible link between chiropractic manipulation and the fatal stroke of Lana Dale Lewis.
For three days the inquest has focused on the credentials of a doctor whom the presiding coroner, with the concurrence of all lawyers present, certified as an expert witness in pathology and neuropathology.
Dr. Michael Pollanen is a key witness for the chiropractic organizations that are defending their profession at the inquest because last year he wrote a report concluding that the neck adjustment did not cause the stroke.
This was a reversal of a 1997 report he co-wrote with Dr. John Deck, his supervisor and mentor, that determined that the chiropractic manipulation likely caused the stroke.
Ms. Lewis, a 45-year-old mother of three, died on Sept. 12, 1996, 12 days after a Toronto chiropractor treated her for migraine headaches.
Relentless questioning from Amani Oakley, the lawyer for the Lewis family, revealed that Dr. Pollanen is a third-year resident in pathology and that he was a medical-school student when he examined the vertebral artery and tissue from Ms. Lewis's neck.
However, he does have a PhD in pathology, which he obtained in 1995 before entering medical school.
The other lawyers jumped to the doctor's defence and accused Ms. Oakley of character assassination by questioning whether Dr. Pollanen was passing himself off as a qualified pathologist and neuropathologist. Lawyer Brian Foster, who represents the chiropractor who treated Ms. Lewis, was quick to point out that Dr. Pollanen only uses the titles MD and PhD after his name.