NEUROPATHOLOGIST Marc Del Bigio told the Brian Sinclair inquest last week that the victim bears some responsibility in his own death, at the Health Sciences Centre ER in 2008. Mr. Sinclair died of sepsis, while sitting for 34 hours in the ER waiting room, due to urine and pus seeping into his blood system.
Dr. Del Bigio, noting something was "amiss" in the ER, told the inquest it must consider two other factors in the death: a) Mr. Sinclair was suffering dementia and the clinic that sent him there should have had someone accompany him to the ER, and b) he was a long-time sniff addict who damaged his brain, and contributed to his own demise.
The first point is welcomed, as is the physician’s plea for greater awareness of the dangers of solvent abuse. But provincial court Judge Tim Preston should dismiss the advice to regard Mr. Sinclair’s HSC experience as partly self-inflicted.
A patient’s lifestyle cannot interfere with medical personnel’s duty to deliver professional care. Otherwise, many people with diseases resulting from behaviour — the skateboarder who refuses to wear a helmet and is brain-damaged from concussion — would suffer. When Mr. Sinclair entered the ER, he was HSC’s responsibility. The hospital failed him. The only question now is how, and why, and how to prevent a recurrence.