Human Exceptionalism

Apology but No Accountability in Starvation Death of Martin Ryan

The hospital that allowed Marin Ryan to starve to death has issued a statement telling Martin’s parents and the country that all concerned are very, very sorry that they allowed him to starve to death over 26 days and “die in agony.”From the story:

Chief executive Kate Grimes said the trust had apologised personally to Mr Ryan’s parents, and that the staff involved ‘very much regret’ his death.

She said the communications breakdown was ‘inexcusable and our staff have learned very serious lessons’. She added: ‘Personally, I would also like to say we feel for Mr Ryan’s parents over the loss of their much-loved son. We know we cannot make things better for them but we have made major changes to ensure another similar tragedy does not occur.

That’s all well and good, and I have no doubt the apology is sincere. But it is inadequate to the profound wrong that occurred in this case. Where is the accountability? Where are the resignations? Why haven’t–apparently–any of the derelict caregivers been fired or disciplined by the hospital and their professional organizations? Indeed, why nearly four years after Martin’s death is the matter still at the inquiry stage?

I have no doubt that if Martin did not have Down syndrome, heads would have figuratively rolled. Indeed, it isn’t vindictiveness but simple justice that demands that this case not be allowed to rest with a simple apology, no matter how sincere or abject.


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