Just weeks before Brian Sinclair died in Health Sciences Centre's emergency waiting room of a bladder infection, the care of his urinary catheter was cut off by a home-care nurse.
Lisa Blanchette, a home nurse with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, testified at an inquest on Monday that Sinclair was supposed to have his catheter checked every two weeks and changed every month, but she placed the care on hold because he was never in his room at the Quest Inn when she came.
"It was difficult to find Brian," Blanchette said. "He just wasn't home."
'It was difficult to find Brian. He just wasn't home'
Blanchette said once while she was driving to the Quest Inn to see Sinclair, she spotted him leaving the facility in his wheelchair so she pulled over to tell him to head back so she could change his catheter.
"He didn't want to. He just wheeled past me, smiled, and wheeled away."
Admitting she became "frustrated" trying to meet with Sinclair, she put his care on hold starting Aug. 7, 2008, spoke with a nurse at Siloam Mission who volunteered to do his catheter care while Sinclair went there to visit his brothers, and left a message for the man's home-care co-ordinator about the care change.
Blanchette said according to home-care notes of Sinclair's care, it was the last time a home-care nurse attempted to see him for catheter care before his death a few weeks later on Sept. 21, 2008. Blanchette said people who delay having a catheter checked are at higher risk of having the catheter becoming blocked and getting bladder infections.
Sinclair, a double amputee, died after waiting 34 hours sitting in his wheelchair in HSC's emergency waiting room without being cared for. An autopsy showed the 45-year-old Sinclair died of a bladder infection after his urinary catheter became blocked. The inquest has heard he died anywhere from two to seven hours before he was discovered dead.
The inquest was called to look into the matter and make recommendations so it doesn't happen again.
Later, during questioning by lawyer Murray Trachtenberg, who represents Sinclair's family, Blanchette admitted she didn't know Sinclair's affairs were being looked after by the Public Trustee because he had been ruled incompetent, but she did know Sinclair was living with a brain injury.
Blanchette said she agreed with Trachtenberg's statement that it wasn't a home-care nurse's responsibility to track down non-compliant patients.
She also said after Sinclair died, nobody in home care reviewed her decision to put his catheter care on hold.
After saying to WRHA lawyer Bill Olson she would drop in on Sinclair unannounced without scheduling a visit to check his catheter, she admitted Sinclair "wouldn't necessarily know" she was coming.
But under questioning by provincial court Judge Tim Preston, Blanchette said while a catheter change is not "time-specific," and she didn't need to schedule an appointment date or time before dropping in on Sinclair, she would tell the nurses at the Quest Inn to tell him she would be back the next day.
Meanwhile, Blanchette also told the inquest according to documents, Sinclair did get his catheter checked or changed at HSC in the months leading up to his death with the last time on Sept. 1, 2008, when he was taken to the hospital by ambulance because the catheter was leaking urine.
The inquest continues.