WINNIPEG – More than six years after a Manitoba man died during a 34-hour wait for care in an emergency room, the final report into his death is being released.
A lawyer for Brian Sinclair’s relatives says his clients have read the report, but won’t comment until after the recommendations are made public later today.
One of the things Vilko Zbogar wants is for Judge Tim Preston to rule Sinclair’s death a homicide. Zbogar made that request at the end of the inquest, which sat sporadically in Winnipeg over almost 1 1/2 years.
Zbogar argued that failing to provide medical care to a sick person is akin to failing to provide the necessities of life.
Sinclair’s family also asked Preston to call on the province to hold a public inquiry into how aboriginal people are treated in the health-care system. The family’s lawyers argued that racist assumptions about the dishevelled double-amputee led to his death and need to be explored further.
The Manitoba government said it wouldn’t consider calling a public inquiry until the inquest report was released.
Winnipeg’s regional health authority argued that a public inquiry wasn’t necessary and would cost money that could be better spent on the front lines. The authority’s lawyers said Sinclair’s fate would not befall anyone else.
The health authority has overhauled the emergency department so triage nurses can better monitor the waiting room. Wristbands for those waiting for care now make them more easily identifiable. Cultural training for staff has also been retooled.
Sinclair, 45, went to the emergency room at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre in September 2008 because of a blocked catheter. The inquest saw security camera footage of him wheeling himself over to the triage desk where he spoke with an aide before wheeling himself into the waiting room.
There, he languished for hours, vomiting and slowly dying from a treatable bladder infection. He was never asked if he was waiting for medical care. Sinclair was never seen by a triage nurse or registered.
Some staff testified that they assumed he was drunk or homeless. By the time he was discovered dead, rigour mortis had set in.