Andy McCulloch’s daughter Colette: Why Can’t You Hear Me? An inquest into medical negligence


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In the early hours of the 28th of July 2016, Colette McCulloch was hit and killed by a bus. Eighteen hours earlier Colette had walked out of the specialist care facility for autistic adults where she was being treated.

Throughout Colette’s short life, her parents Andy and Amanda, sought out medical professionals to try to explain and ease their younger daughter’s extraordinary mind. Since Colette’s death Andy and Amanda have been fighting various medical and legal authorities to uncover the failings in her care and treatment.

In our interview, author Andy McCulloch tells the story of his daughter's life and untimely death: the years in which her autism went undiagnosed, her lifelong battle with eating disorders and the lack of support for her complex needs. In spite of these challenges, Colette forged a path to university to pursue her passion for literature and to have her writing published.

Over the past year Andy and Amanda have written a book about their family’s experience with the health care system titled “Why Can’t You Hear Me?” - and it includes some of Colette’s writing, where she articulates her experiences grappling with a world forever at odds with her. With this book, Colette’s dream of having her words published has come to fruition.

Colette's story is ultimately a call to action and a message of hope for a future in which autistic people will be better understood, appropriately cared for, and able to flourish.

Connect with Andy McCulloch:

Twitter: @AndyMcCulloch5

Buy his book: Why Can’t You Hear Me?

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Scott Simpson:

Counsellor + Patient Advocate + (former) Triathlete

I am a counsellor, patient advocate, and - before I became sick and disabled - a passionate triathlete. Work hard. Train hard. Rest hard.

I have been living with HIV since 1998. I was the first person living with HIV to compete at the triathlon world championships.

Thanks to research and access to medications, HIV is not a problem in my life.

I have been living with ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) since 2012, and thanks in part to medical error, it is a big problem in my life.

Counseling / Research

I first became aware of the ubiquitousness of medical error during a decade of community based research working with the HIV Prevention Lab at Ryerson University, where I co-authored two research papers on a counseling intervention for people living with HIV, here and here.

Patient participants would often report varying degrees of medical neglect, error and harms as part of their counseling sessions.

Patient Advocacy

I am co-founder of the ME patient advocacy non-profit Millions Missing Canada, and on the Executive Committee of the Interdisciplinary Canadian Collaborative Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Research Network.

I am also a patient advisor for Health Quality Ontario’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, and member of Patients for Patient Safety Canada.

Medical Error Interviews podcast and vidcast emerged to give voice to victims, witnesses and participants in this hidden epidemic so we can create change toward a safer health care system.

My golden retriever Gladys is a constant source of love and joy. I hope to be well enough again one day to race triathlons again. Or even shovel the snow off the sidewalk.

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