Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Homicide victim's kin sues hospital

Given propofol, vomited and died

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The killer is already behind bars, but now the family of a Winnipeg homicide victim is going after a city hospital for its alleged role in the man's death.

Garth Isfeld, 44, died hours after being struck with a beer bottle outside his daughter's 18th birthday party in March 2010. He fell to the ground and struck his head but was able to walk to the ambulance and answer questions on arrival at Concordia Hospital.

Isfeld went into respiratory distress later that night and couldn't be revived.

Darren Hall, 25, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year even though court was told Isfeld might not have died had he been given different medical care in the hospital. Hall was sentenced to one year in jail in addition to two years of time already served.

A medical expert told a preliminary hearing Isfeld might have survived the incident had staff at Concordia Hospital not given him a dose of propofol, a drug prescribed for sedation and anesthesia, in an attempt to calm his agitated, restless state. Isfeld ended up vomiting and was unable to clear his airway, contributing to his death.

"If propofol had not been delivered to the deceased, which in turn resulted in him vomiting, he probably would not have died," Court of Queen's Bench Justice Doug Abra said in delivering his sentencing decision. Abra said there are lingering questions about the medical care Isfeld received.

Isfeld's family shares the judge's concerns and have sued the hospital and the treating physician, seeking unspecified financial damages. No statement of defence has been filed and the civil allegations have not been proven.

At his sentencing, Hall expressed remorse for the attack and said he never meant to cause serious harm to Isfeld. He was angry at Isfeld for kicking him out of the party after he showed up uninvited with some mutual friends of the host, court was told.

Several witnesses told the Free Press at the time that Hall was being abusive to Isfeld's daughter. The two men argued briefly in the living room before it spilled outside and ended with the assault, which wasn't initially deemed life-threatening.

Isfeld is survived by his five children, who described him as a caring, generous man with a great sense of humour.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2013 A7


Updated on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 2:43 PM CST: Corrects erroneous reference to Hall's family.

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