Emergency room video released at inquest into Winnipeg man's death

WINNIPEG – A video showing the final hours of a man who died during 34 hours in a hospital emergency room is being shown at the inquest into his death.

Surveillance tape from two cameras at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre shows Brian Sinclair being wheeled to the triage desk by a taxi driver at 2:53 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2008.

The taxi driver leaves the 45-year-old double-amputee in a lineup at the desk. After less than a minute, Sinclair is approached by a triage aide, who appears to talk to him and makes notes on a pad of paper. At one point, the aide leans in toward Sinclair.

There is no audio accompanying the video.

“There is no doubt he is addressing Brian Sinclair at this point,” Sgt. John O’Donovan, who is walking the inquest through hours of security footage, said Monday.

After about 30 seconds, Sinclair wheels himself into the waiting room and finds a spot to park in front of the security desk.

“He is able to manoeuvre his chair, backs it into that spot and he remains there,” O’Donovan said. “He appears to be alert and aware of his surroundings.”

O’Donovan spent hundreds of hours studying the surveillance footage as part of a year-long police investigation into Sinclair’s death. No criminal charges were laid.

O’Donovan told the inquest that Sinclair didn’t leave the waiting room from the time he arrived until he was found dead 34 hours later.

Sinclair died of a treatable bladder infection caused by a blocked catheter. Manitoba’s chief medical examiner has testified that Sinclair needed about half an hour of a doctor’s time — to get his catheter changed and antibiotics prescribed to fight infection.

The video instead shows Sinclair waiting in the emergency room. He is not seen speaking to a nurse or having his vital signs checked.

The triage aide can be seen speaking to other patients who arrive at the emergency department and is also seen making notes on a pad of paper. Triage nurses also appear to handle a paper pad, but it is unclear if it’s the same one used by the aide.

The pad appeared to be used “just to get the names of people who needed to be triaged,” O’Donovan said.

The video shows a man who came in immediately after Sinclair — and who spoke to the same aide — returning to the desk to speak to a nurse to be formally triaged.

Other patients who arrived after Sinclair are also seen being triaged as nurses appear to cross their names off the paper.

“Brian Sinclair is still sitting in the same area,” O’Donovan said.

At one point, Sinclair is seen briefly wheeling past the triage desk and looking at the nurses, but he returns to the waiting area without speaking to anyone. As her continues to languish in the ER, people who were also waiting disappear.

Sinclair wheels himself over to just below the security camera and appears to fall asleep as he continues to wait overnight. Security footage is expected to show Sinclair later vomiting on himself as he continues to wait before going into septic shock and slumping over in his wheelchair.

The medical examiner has already testified that by the time a fellow patient approached security with concerns about Sinclair, around midnight on Sept. 20, rigor mortis had begun to set in.

The inquest is scheduled to continue this week and then resume in October.