Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'They wouldn't listen to me about (Sinclair)': witness

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THE husband of an emergency room patient testified he tried to alert both a nurse and security guard about Brian Sinclair because he was concerned about him.

Within hours, another nurse checked Sinclair to see if he wore a hospital bracelet, but not for his condition.

The two incidents -- both at times when Sinclair, 45, could have been successfully treated for a bladder infection and blocked catheter -- were the focus of the first day of inquest testimony after a two-month break.

Michael Head, who went to Health Sciences Centre's emergency room just after 1 a.m. on Sept. 20 because his wife had an infection, testified Monday he spoke with Sinclair in the waiting room shortly after arriving.

At that point, Sinclair had been in the waiting room about 10 hours.

"There was this person sitting there in a wheelchair with no legs," Head told provincial court Judge Tim Preston.

"I asked him his name and he said his name was Brian Sinclair. He asked my name and I said Mike Head and he started laughing.

"I asked him how long he had been sitting there and he said 'quite a while.' "

Head helped Sinclair go into the washroom and then get a drink of water at a water fountain.

He testified when he told a nurse about Sinclair the woman told him, "'They are taking people that are more sick or something like that,' " and a guard told him people get signed in before seeing a doctor.

"I got mad at them and left," he said. "They wouldn't listen to me about this guy."

Head was shown security videos in which he doesn't talk to any nurses at the triage desk. He was also shown images depicting him going to the minor treatment room and the security desk.

Under questioning by Bill Olson, lawyer for HSC and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Head admitted while he was becoming confused about when he told people, he wasn't confused about what he said.

Sinclair died Sept. 21, 2008, after waiting in emergency for 34 hours.

A coroner has told the inquest Sinclair could have been dead up to seven hours before it was discovered he was dead.

He was sent by taxi to HSC with a physician's note in his pocket explaining what was believed wrong with him by a doctor at a nearby clinic.

The inquest has heard Sinclair wasn't triaged when he arrived. Instead he rolled his wheelchair into the waiting room. During the hours Sinclair spent there, hospital staff gave him a bowl in which to throw up in and cleaned vomit off the floor, while other people told staff Sinclair didn't look well.

Sinclair was rushed into the treatment area by a security guard, but by then rigor mortis had set in. An autopsy showed he died of a treatable bladder infection.

Meanwhile, HSC triage nurse Robert Malo testified earlier he had brief contact with Sinclair around 4 a.m. or 5 a.m..

But Malo said he didn't check Sinclair's vitals. He was only checking to see if Sinclair wore a hospital bracelet.

"I was matching charts to patients," he said, noting he was doing it to see which patients had become tired of waiting and had left.

"(Sinclair) was sleeping... I looked at his wrists and I didn't see any arm band."

Malo, who estimated he may have been with Sinclair for 10 seconds, admitted he believed the man was in the emergency room for a non-medical reason, which could include waiting for a ride after seeing a doctor or looking for a safe place to sleep.

Malo said he didn't know the man he checked that day was the same man who died during his next shift Sept. 21, until he saw Sinclair in the resuscitation room.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2014 B1

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