Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sinclair dead hours before being noticed

Person in waiting room told staff

  • Print

Brian Sinclair spent 34 hours sitting in his wheelchair metres away from help in a hospital ER waiting room, but he could have been dead as long as seven of those hours.

That's the opinion of Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra, the province's chief medical examiner, who told an inquest on Wednesday that while the 45-year-old Sinclair was officially pronounced dead shortly before 1 a.m. on Sept. 21, 2008, evidence suggests he died some time earlier.

Balachandra said no one knows exactly when Sinclair died, but almost seven hours before he was declared officially dead, a security camera in the Health Sciences Centre emergency department showed him moving part of his body -- his hand -- for the last time.

Balachandra said based on the amount of rigor mortis present when Sinclair was pronounced dead, he was probably dead at least two hours.

Balachandra said if Sinclair had been treated -- he needed to have a blocked catheter replaced so he could discharge his urine, and a course of antibiotics to fight the ensuing infection -- he could have survived.

Sinclair, a double amputee, was transported to Health Sciences Centre in a Handi-Transit taxi on Sept. 19, 2008, after being seen by a doctor at the Health Action Centre. The clinic's doctor determined Sinclair needed his catheter replaced -- he told doctors he hadn't voided into his urine bag for 24 hours -- so the clinic called the cab and sent him to HSC with a letter detailing the treatment needed.

The inquest has heard when Sinclair arrived at HSC, he went briefly to the emergency triage desk, where he spoke to a uniformed employee who wrote something down, before rolling his wheelchair to the waiting area.

Thirty-four hours later another person in the waiting room alerted a security guard that a man appeared to have died there.

After HSC staff determined Sinclair was dead, they found the clinic doctor's note still in his pocket. His cause of death was an infected bladder.

Balachandra said he hopes the inquest, which he called, leads to changes in emergency-room procedures and reduces wait times.

"I'm not saying doctors are bad -- we have world-class doctors," he said. "But there's something wrong somewhere. It's no one's fault, but the system has to be rejigged."

Both Balachandra and Dr. John Younes, the coroner who did the autopsy on Sinclair and is now the deputy chief medical officer, told provincial court Judge Tim Preston that while an artery in the man's heart was nearly blocked and there was evidence of chronic solvent abuse, neither led to his death.

Younes said the autopsy was performed 33 hours after Sinclair was pronounced dead.

Younes said the autopsy was held at St. Boniface Hospital to avoid the possibility of conflict of interest.

Under questioning by Shannon Carson, lawyer for the Manitoba Nurses Union, Younes said if Sinclair's body temperature had been taken when he was pronounced dead, the time of death would be more accurate.

Younes said while performing the autopsy he found Sinclair's catheter was still properly placed in his bladder, but it was blocked by dead skin and pus from an infection.

He said about half a litre of pus was found in Sinclair's abdominal area during the autopsy, caused by the infected urine leaking out of a small rupture in his bladder. The doctor said the bladder was so infected, parts of the inner lining were "sloughing off."

The inquest continues today.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 8, 2013 A3


Updated on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 6:29 AM CDT: Replaces photo

8:27 AM: removes word

9:50 AM: Adds CIL box.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg police address homicides targeting homeless community

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Geese take cover in long grass in the Tuxedo Business Park near Route 90 Wednesday- Day 28– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • July 1, 2012 - 120701  -   Canada Day fireworks at The Forks from the Norwood Bridge Sunday, July 1, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google