Man who died waiting 34 hours in ER identified
Published Tuesday, September 23, 2008 11:29PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 9:06PM EDT
A man who died while waiting 34 hours for care in a Winnipeg emergency room has been identified.
Brian Sinclair, 45, died at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre (WHSC) in what some are calling the worst emergency room failure in Manitoba's history.
Sinclair, who was reportedly homeless, arrived at the emergency room on Friday at 3 p.m. He was finally attended to at 1 a.m. on Sunday and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said he was pronounced dead a short time later.
"For reasons we can't explain right now, he was never presented at the triage desk where we have triage nurses that assess someone's clinical situation," said Dr. Brock Wright, the head of the WRHA.
Wright now confirms what CTV Winnipeg reported Monday - that Sinclair sat dead in the waiting room for some time before anyone realized he had passed away.
A patient in the same hospital waiting room as Sinclair says he told nurses and security workers he was concerned about the man -- but says he was told they were too busy to check on him.
The witness -- who spoke to CTV Winnipeg on the condition of anonymity -- said he was in the waiting room Friday evening. Sinclair, who had both his legs amputated, was sitting nearby in a wheelchair and appeared to be sleeping.
The witness said when he returned to the waiting area the next night Sinclair was sitting in the exact same position.
"I didn't think he was asleep, so we went to tell a nurse," said the witness, who was there with his wife. "The nurse said 'We'll go and check,' [but] nobody ever went and checked on him.
The witness said he waited an hour before asking another nurse to check on Sinclair but the nurse told him she was too busy and couldn't check right away.
The witness claims he told a security officer of the man's condition, but said the guard told him the case would be "too much paperwork."
Sinclair is seen on the hospital's security camera footage when he arrived at the department's main entrance Friday afternoon.
He is not in the footage the entire time, but health officials say they believe the man was in the waiting room for the full 34 hours. It's also believed the man interacted with aides and cleaning staff, but not medical staff.
"The challenge for us right now is to explain how it is somebody could be in the department for 34 hours and not have been brought forward to the triage desk area and be entered into the system," Wright said.
Wright said the system relies on people approaching the triage desk so that they can be placed in a queue based on the urgency of their medical needs. He said Sinclair was known to hospital staff, and said staff was surprised Sinclair wouldn't have checked in at the triage desk.
The chief medical examiner has determined the cause of death, but is still notifying family members. A critical incident review is now underway involving the Health Sciences Centre, its emergency department, and the WRHA.
The issue dominated question period at the Manitoba Legislature on Tuesday, as Progressive-Conservative Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen demanded answers from Premier Gary Doer.
McFadyen accused the minister of knowing about the case when she held a news conference on Monday to announce a new contract with doctors.
"Thirty four hours, no attention, known to the minister at a time when she's out boasting about her record in health care. I want to ask the premier if he thinks it's appropriate that the Minister of Health was in front of the media yesterday, boasting in this house, boasting before this story broke, a story she was aware of, that she had overseen the worst emergency room failure in Manitoba history."
"We're treating this as a very, very serious situation," responded Doer. "We are investigating what went tragically wrong. And we admit to the people of Manitoba that it went tragically wrong."
Victim had kicked addictions: friend
Friends of Brian Sinclair told CTV Winnipeg he was a former solvent abuser who had kicked his addictions.
"We haven't seen him in a year," said Joseph Severeight. "He quit using solvents and things like that. And that's how I knew him, he cleaned up his life."
Sinclair's brother, Bradley, said he didn't know his brother had gone to the emergency room and was told by social workers that Brian had died.
"I feel awful, but I'm going to pray for him," he said.
With a report from CTV's Kelly Dehn