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Dead in the ER

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Brian Sinclair began his medical odyssey Friday at a government-run health clinic. They packed him in a cab and had delivered him to HSC. Presumably, someone at the clinic thought he was sick enough to warrant a trip to the hospital.COLUMN: Patient's demise raises troubling questionsFor some reason, Sinclair arrived but was never checked in at the triage desk.Sinclair, 45, was an aboriginal man in a wheelchair. He was known to the emergency room staff, one of the homeless who take shelter at the hospital when they need a safe, warm place to sleep. Is that part of why he spent 34 hours in the ER without once being seen or spoken to by a nurse or doctor?We may never know.What we do know is that Sinclair died hours before a member of the public realized something was wrong and notified hospital staff.Hours.The hospital is scrambling to investigate this case. There's no question the ER staff are devastated. The key questions to be answered are: Why isn't there a system in place to make sure everyone in the waiting room has been triaged? Why does an inner-city hospital have to serve as a shelter for the homeless? Did racism play a part in this tragedy because other members of the public assumed Sinclair was just sleeping it off?Finally, are our waiting times for medical help so long that a man can sit in an ER for a day and a half and no one notices something is wrong?I don't have any answers. I only hope the HSC and the province hasten to provide them.In the meantime, here's a CNN link to a similar situation in the US, sent to my by colleague James Turner.

http://www.cnn.com/2008US/0701waiting.room.death/index.html

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