Inquest told Winnipeg man who died in emergency room ignored most of 34 hours

WINNIPEG – An inquest has been told that a man who died in a hospital emergency room was ignored almost the entire 34 hours he was waiting for care, even when he threw up three times.

Sgt. John O’Donovan said 150 people moved through the ER the weekend Brian Sinclair died, but he was the only one who didn’t receive medical treatment.

O’Donovan, who watched the surveillance footage of Sinclair’s time at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre in September 2008, said the video shows no one paid attention to the double amputee while he languished in the emergency department.

“He was the only person who wasn’t provided medical treatment,” O’Donovan said Tuesday. “I don’t know if he was being ignored on purpose. They weren’t aware of him there. He was ignored during his time there.”

Sinclair went to the emergency room because he hadn’t urinated in 24 hours. The video footage shows Sinclair arriving at the hospital by taxi and speaking to a triage aide.

The sick man wheeled himself into the waiting room where he remained until he was discovered dead 34 hours later.

Manitoba’s chief medical examiner has testified the 45-year-old died from a treatable bladder infection caused by a blocked catheter. Sinclair needed about half-an-hour of medical treatment, including a catheter change and a prescription for antibiotics.

After Sinclair had been waiting for almost 24 hours, he vomited on himself three times, O’Donovan said. Medical staff moved in and out of the waiting room during that period, but never approached Sinclair, O’Donovan said.

“They were aware he had thrown up. He was provided with a basin by a member of the cleaning staff.”

Sinclair family lawyer Vilko Zbogar pointed out that five minutes of surveillance footage, covering the time when Sinclair was found dead, is missing.

O’Donovan said he hadn’t noticed the missing footage before and doesn’t know why it is missing since the cameras were apparently working at the time.

Police spent a year investigating Sinclair’s death. No criminal charges were laid.

The inquest is sitting until Thursday and then won’t resume again until October.