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Medical officer reviews videos

Wright now says Sinclair reached triage desk

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/2/2009 (3781 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A senior Winnipeg health official now says hospital security videos show Brian Sinclair approached the emergency room triage desk seeking care -- one day after he came under fire for dismissing the video evidence.

Dr. Brock Wright ignited political furor Wednesday when he said Sinclair never formally presented himself to the emergency room triage desk, despite a review of hospital videotapes made public by Manitoba's chief medical examiner Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra that found Sinclair did approach the desk seeking care.

Wright, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority chief medical officer and senior vice-president of clinical services, said he'd never seen the security tapes, and didn't "feel the need" to review them himself.

His initial comments called the WRHA's account of the facts surrounding Sinclair's high-profile death into question and sparked outrage from critics who alleged Wright and other health officials misled the public. For months, health officials said 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 the doctor.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/2/2009 (3781 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

"He knew how to go sit in a line because he's sat in a line his whole life," said Salvation Army Maj. Karen Hoeft.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"He knew how to go sit in a line because he's sat in a line his whole life," said Salvation Army Maj. Karen Hoeft.

A senior Winnipeg health official now says hospital security videos show Brian Sinclair approached the emergency room triage desk seeking care — one day after he came under fire for dismissing the video evidence.

Dr. Brock Wright ignited political furor Wednesday when he said Sinclair never formally presented himself to the emergency room triage desk, despite a review of hospital videotapes made public by Manitoba's chief medical examiner Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra that found Sinclair did approach the desk seeking care.

Wright, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority chief medical officer and senior vice-president of clinical services, said he'd never seen the security tapes, and didn't "feel the need" to review them himself.

Dr. Brock Wright's comments before seeing the video of Sinclair sparked outrage.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Dr. Brock Wright's comments before seeing the video of Sinclair sparked outrage.

His initial comments called the WRHA's account of the facts surrounding Sinclair's high-profile death into question and sparked outrage from critics who alleged Wright and other health officials misled the public. For months, health officials said 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 the doctor.

The uproar prompted WRHA to release a statement saying that Wright viewed the security tapes Thursday.

While the statement corroborates much of what Balachandra said, it maintains the video evidence is consistent with the findings of the WRHA's internal review.

The statement said Sinclair wheeled himself into the line in front of the triage desk, behind one other person who was speaking with the triage nurse. It said he spoke with a triage aide who approached him, and then wheeled himself to the waiting area.

Wright did not speak publicly regarding the unexpected public statement.

Sinclair, a 45-year-old double-amputee, was found dead in the HSC waiting room Sept. 21, 2008, after waiting for 34 hours.

"I truly believe he was not aware," Balachandra said of Wright's initial comments. "That is the difference between them and us — we are investigators. They are more involved in treatment, so they don't know which nook and cranny to look at."

Salvation Army Maj. Karen Hoeft, who spoke on the behalf of Sinclair's family, said the public often has a false perception that inner-city residents don't understand how the medical system works. She said people who knew Sinclair didn't need to see a security video to know he knew exactly how the hospital triage system works.

"He knew how to go sit in a line because he's sat in a line his whole life," Hoeft said.

The WRHA's latest statement came the same day critics accused Health Minister Theresa Oswald of dodging questions about the Sinclair tragedy.

Oswald admitted WRHA staff could have communicated the details of Sinclair's case better, but said she is confident that Wright and others did well in reforming emergency room protocols in the wake of Sinclair's death.

She said she's not worried about her political rivals "slinging mud" and is more concerned about getting to the bottom of why Sinclair wasn't triaged and taking steps to ensure a similar breakdown in the system doesn't happen again.

"Is it possible they could've done better in being clear about all the information they had when they had it? I would absolutely say yes, yes they could've done a better job," Oswald said. "But is it corruption? Is it a coverup? I do not believe it is."

Tory health critic Myrna Driedger said there's a serious lack of leadership and accused Oswald and Premier Gary Doer of hiding behind the WRHA rather than holding them to account. She said the government should have taken responsibility to get the facts about what happened to Sinclair and instead painted a picture of a man who failed to report to triage.

"It's extremely disappointing to know you've got a government that's more committed to misleading the public and trying to paint such a rosy picture of health care rather than telling the truth about what really did happen," Driedger said.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Dr. Brock Wright's statements then and now:

Sept. 22, 2008

 

"What should happen in every case is that a patient coming into the emergency department would be seen, there's a desk where the triage nurse resides, and patients, whether they're walking in, or they're brought in, or they arrive by ambulance, all present to the triage desk, and at the triage desk, critical information is collected."

Sept. 23, 2008

 

"He never made it to that triage desk, so he wasn't registered and he wasn't known to the emergency staff as somebody who was waiting for care."

 

Sept. 29, 2008

 

"That's the tragic aspect of this, because there's no doubt in my mind had the patient been triaged when he arrived that he would've been seen within that 34-hour time period."

 

Feb. 4, 2009

 

"I didn't feel the need to review the videotape myself.... My information is that he did not formally present himself to the triage desk. If that's later found to be incorrect, then we'll learn that from the inquest."

 

Feb. 5, 2009

 

In an email statement: "Mr. Sinclair then wheeled himself into the line at the triage desk where the triage nurse on duty was seeing the one person ahead of him. A triage aide then approached Mr. Sinclair, spoke with him and wrote something down on his clipboard. Mr. Sinclair is then seen wheeling himself into the waiting area."

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