Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Would have helped Sinclair if she knew he was sick: nurse

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IF a nurse had realized Brian Sinclair had thrown up twice, she would have treated him instead of ignoring him.

That's what now-retired Health Sciences Centre emergency room nurse Lori Stevens told an inquest looking into Sinclair's death in the department's waiting room on Sept. 21, 2008.

Stevens says she was working as the reassessment nurse -- the staff member who checks on the condition of people waiting for care in the waiting room -- but she only remembers seeing the 45-year-old Sinclair once momentarily during her 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. shift on Sept. 20, 2008.

She said she recalled -- after going into the waiting room to bring another person she had just treated a note to take to her doctor -- seeing Sinclair in his wheelchair rolling towards the back of the room at about 3:30 p.m.

"I saw this person with no legs and no wheelchair legs (footpads) go over a silver wash basin," Stevens said under questioning on Tuesday.

"What stuck with me is any one of us with legs would have clanged against that basin."

Stevens said she also recalled the basin was empty and clean. "There was no cause for alarm and he was wheeling over it," she said, adding she would always care for somebody who she knew was sick.

Later, under questioning by Murray Trachtenberg, the Sinclair family's lawyer, Stevens said she couldn't remember telling Winnipeg Regional Health Authority investigators that she saw some type of fluid or liquid on the floor beside Sinclair.

Stevens also said she didn't remember hearing a security guard say he would call housekeeping to clean up the liquid and she was surprised to hear a guard had earlier testified she told him she had observed Sinclair had thrown up twice.

"I don't remember that but that's not my personality to know somebody is sick and not do anything about it," she said.

"He's saying I knew Mr. Sinclair was sick? I find that extremely hard to believe."

Sinclair died after waiting 34 hours in the emergency department's waiting room for a treatable bladder infection and a blocked urinary catheter.

The inquest has heard Sinclair may have died up to seven hours before he was found in a department that was short-staffed, overworked and busier than normal that weekend.

Earlier, Stevens said she was one of a group of emergency room nurses concerned, the year before Sinclair died, about the layout of the new waiting room in the emergency department.

"The first thought was 'Oh my gosh, you've got to be kidding me.' The environment was dysfunctional. It was as long as a football field with lots of cubby holes. People could be lost and not be found for a long time."

But Stevens said when she spoke out about her concerns, "as far as I know nothing was changed."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 16, 2013 B2


Updated on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:30 AM CDT: Blog box added.

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