September 28, 2020

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Minister sat on truth about ER death

Learned last year initial reports were inaccurate

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/2/2009 (4248 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Health Minister Theresa Oswald first learned Brian Sinclair approached the emergency room triage desk for help last October -- a detail she never publicized in the wake of the double-amputee's tragic 34-hour wait for care.

Oswald said the fact that Sinclair approached the triage desk seeking care was included in the findings of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's administrative review -- an internal report she read one month after Sinclair was found dead in the Health Sciences Centre emergency room.

Oswald said she didn't initially speak publicly about the administrative review's findings since it was immediately handed over as evidence for the inquest.

She said the facts surrounding Sinclair's death are best in the hands of a judicial inquest, where they will come out publicly in a "fair and balanced" manner.

Her comments come on the heels of a week of intense public scrutiny surrounding the WRHA's explanation of Sinclair's tragic death and increasing calls for her resignation.

A review of Health Sciences Centre security videos made public by Manitoba's chief medical examiner revealed Sinclair did approach the triage desk seeking care -- a detail that officials did not discuss until it came to light last week.

For months, health officials never corrected their initial statements that Sinclair never approached the triage desk to be registered in the queue to see a physician, and staff didn't know he was waiting to see a doctor.

"When I was answering questions immediately following (Sinclair's death) I did not know that particular detail," Oswald said Monday.

"I don't believe that information came to light until the time of the administrative review, which was about a month later."

"We were given very clear information that he was not triaged at the Health Science Centre."

However, Oswald did not provide that update to the Manitoba legislature when she fielded opposition questions regarding the WRHA's internal administrative review in late November.

The administrative review was released publicly in November, and found that no one individual was to blame for Sinclair's death.

Tory health critic Myrna Driedger said Oswald has continued to gloss over the details of Sinclair's death and should have set the record straight when she learned the truth.

"She has never put the record straight," Driedger said. "She learned this one month after he died and did not correct the record."

Sinclair, a 45-year-old double-amputee, was found dead in the HSC ER on Sept. 21.

An autopsy found he died of a preventable infection, and a catheter change and course of antibiotics could have saved his life.

No date for the inquest has been set, but Johanna Abbott, director of the chief medical examiner's office, said given all the public attention about Sinclair's death it will be "prudent" to suggest that the inquest be held sooner rather than later.

Oswald said she's more concerned with getting to the bottom of why Sinclair was never triaged than the "naming and blaming" political game that detracts from the heart of the issue.

She said everyone is entitled to due process, and that the public will hear many new details of Sinclair's final hours when the inquest is held.

"I am not calling for resignations from people from the WRHA and I do not plan to resign," Oswald said.

"There will be hundreds of details that emerge as the inquest unfolds following Mr. Sinclair from the Health Action Centre to the tragedy of his death."




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