Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/2/2009 (4895 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Brian Sinclair sat vomiting in the Health Sciences Centre emergency room as security guards tried to alert triage staff to the ailing double-amputee’s urgent need for care, the province’s chief medical examiner told the Free Press.
Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra’s latest revelation sheds new light on Sinclair’s tragic 34-hour wait for medical treatment.
Balachandra said hospital security staff tried "many times" to get the attention of triage and "other staff" because Sinclair needed help. His investigation reviewed hospital security tapes and involved interviews with security staff.
The 45-year-old legless man was found dead by a horrified member of the public in the hospital’s waiting room Sept. 21, 2008. An autopsy showed he died of a bladder infection, which could have been treated with a catheter change and antibiotics.
"The security guards tried to talk to the hospital staff," Balachandra said Friday. "But to no avail."
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority officials have never disclosed Sinclair was seen vomiting during his final hours, and up until Thursday, maintained that Sinclair never approached the triage desk for care.
Officials allege Sinclair "fell through the cracks" of the medical system due to systemic gaps. The Free Press obtained an internal email circulated Friday by WRHA CEO Dr. Brian Postl in response to the "dissection of information" about the inquest into Sinclair’s death.
Postl’s email stated the WRHA clearly said Sinclair took all the appropriate steps to obtain care in HSC’s ER.
"Regrettably, despite Mr. Sinclair’s efforts to obtain that care, systems in place at that time did not facilitate his being connected to the proper medical care," the email said.
WRHA spokeswoman Heidi Graham said officials will not comment about the security videos since they have been turned over to the court as evidence in the inquest. When asked why WRHA officials spoke publicly about the content of the security tapes earlier this week, Graham said, "We didn’t comment on anything new this week. It was stuff that was already out."
Earlier this week, Balachandra incited political and public uproar when he said hospital security videos show the first thing Sinclair did when he arrived at the inner-city ER was approach the triage desk for care.
His statements refuted what health officials had said for months and prompted critics to allege the health authority’s top administrators misled the public.
Up until Thursday, WRHA officials maintained Sinclair did not approach the triage desk to be registered in the queue to see a physician.
Dr. Brock Wright, chief medical officer and senior vice-president of clinical services, maintained that Sinclair "never formally presented himself to the triage desk." Wright admitted he hadn’t watched the videos since he "didn’t feel the need."
One day later, he watched the videos and admitted they show Sinclair wheeled himself up to the line at the triage desk and spoke with a triage aide. Triage aides have similar training to health-care aides and are responsible for minor cleaning. They should also alert the triage nurse if a patient is in need of assessment.
Wright’s gaffe became another flashpoint for critics, and added fuel to the allegation the WRHA withheld details from the public.
Tory health critic Myrna Driedger said someone has to be held accountable for Sinclair’s death and the medical system’s failure to care for the ailing man. As details continue to emerge, Driedger said she wonders what else will be revealed during the inquest.
"Nobody seems to want to take responsibility in what happened," Driedger said late Friday. "As we learn more and more it seems more and more tragic."
Dear WRHA staff:
Excerpt from a Feb. 6 email to all staff working in the Winnipeg Health Region:
The unfortunate dissection of information around the call for the inquest into the death of Brian Sinclair has again thrust this tragedy and all involved into the public spotlight. We welcome the inquest, which will consider all of these complex facts in proper context.
We have clearly stated that Mr. Sinclair took all of the appropriate steps to obtain care in HSC’s emergency department when he arrived.
Regrettably, despite Mr. Sinclair’s efforts to obtain that care, systems in place at that time did not facilitate his being connected to the proper medical care. These are the very system frailties that we’ve taken steps to address since this tragedy. Our staff continue to be invaluable to ensuring that all patients attending our emergency departments are properly and safely served.
We are very proud of the care and commitment of the people who work in our health region and acknowledge that how we are received in the eyes of our patients, family, friends and community can have a profound impact on our personal and professional integrity. This negative publicity works toward reducing public confidence in our health-care system and I want to assure all of you we appreciate everyone’s best efforts to provide quality health and health-care services to the people of Winnipeg and beyond each and every day.
— Brian Postl