- Category: news
- Created: Friday, 30 August 2013 14:08
- Published: Friday, 30 August 2013 14:08
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Sinclair ignored by guards, nurses
By: Bruce Owen
Winnipeg Free Press
The first phase of the inquest looking into the 2008 death of Brian Sinclair at a city emergency room ended Thursday, painting a picture of a disorganized system where security guards had more contact with patients than nurses and the seriously ill were sent to hospital with notes in their pockets.
In the past month, the inquest has also heard Sinclair, a longtime solvent abuser, had gone to the Health Sciences Centre's ER 31 times in the five years before his death and for some had become a familiar feature in the waiting room.
What became glaringly obvious during testimony at the Law Courts Building is the dire condition of the 45-year-old double amputee went largely unnoticed -- some would say ignored -- by nurses and security guards during his 34 hours in the waiting room.
It was two members of the public who brought Sinclair's condition to the attention of security guards -- not medical staff -- during those hours he sat in his wheelchair near a TV, partially blocking an aisle.
When one man approached security guards saying Sinclair had thrown up on himself, security guard Peter VanDenOever brought him a bowl.
"At some point in our exchange, he grimaced as if he was in some discomfort," VanDenOever told the inquest Thursday, adding he saw a clear liquid on the floor.
VanDenOever said he went to speak to triage aide Jordon Loechner about Sinclair's condition and minutes later brought Sinclair a larger bowl. A housekeeper was called to clean up around Sinclair.
"I believe he had heard me and I thought he would follow it up," VanDenOever said of Loechner.
Medical experts have already testified Sinclair's vomiting was a sign his body was going into shock. The inquest has heard Sinclair vomited several times before he died of a treatable bladder infection caused by a blocked catheter.
Security guard Alain Remillard told the inquest Thursday when he was informed Sinclair had thrown up -- about 24 hours after he first arrived at the ER Sept. 19, 2008 -- he assumed Sinclair was intoxicated and "sleeping it off."
Remillard said when he walked up behind Sinclair, he thought the clear liquid on the floor was urine and Sinclair had "peed himself."
"I was assuming at the time that he was sleeping," Remillard said. "Since he posed no security threat, I didn't feel it was necessary to wake him up.
"If I thought it was a medical issue, I would have reported it to nursing staff."
Sinclair, a note in his pocket, had been sent to the ER by taxi from a city clinic because he hadn't urinated in 24 hours and needed his catheter changed.
Surveillance-camera footage shows Sinclair being wheeled into the ER speaking to a triage aide who has been identified at the inquest as Loechner. Loechner is seen writing something on a piece of paper before Sinclair wheels himself into the waiting room. A hunt for that paper after Sinclair's death turned up nothing. Loechner is to testify at the inquest after it resumes Oct. 7.
Also set to testify is Debbie McPhail, who alerted security guards in the early morning of Sept. 21 that she believed Sinclair was dead. The inquest has already heard a security guard brushed off McPhail's concern, saying that was the way Sinclair slept, head slumped in his chest, when he was intoxicated.