Sinclair obviously in distress during ER wait, inquest hears

A man who tried to help a fellow patient who languished for 34 hours in a hospital emergency room before he was found dead said Brian Sinclair was obviously in distress.

Man waiting more than a day in Winnipeg ER had been dead for hours: doctor

Brian Sinclair, 45, died after waiting 34 hours in a Winnipeg emergency room in September 2008. (Family photo)

A man who tried to help a fellow patient who languished for 34 hours in a hospital emergency room before he was found dead said Brian Sinclair was obviously in distress.

Dennis Grant was in the waiting area on Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre on the afternoon of Sept. 20, 2008 — 24 hours after Sinclair first arrived in the emergency department. Grant told an inquest into Sinclair's death that the double-amputee was sitting beside him and his family when he started vomiting.

"I thought he was blind because he didn't seem to focus on anything. His eyes looked glazed over," Grant said Thursday. "He was fidgety, rolling back and forth in his wheelchair. He was always looking around, but it was a vacant stare.

"He was obviously agitated."

Sinclair vomited twice, Grant said. Both times, Grant went over to security and told a guard "his buddy" was sick. Both times, he said, Sinclair was given a bowl and house-keeping was called to clean up the mess.

No one appeared to talk to Sinclair after he vomited and he wasn't approached by a nurse, Grant said.

"It was extremely busy," Grant said of the emergency department.

Sinclair was pronounced dead just before 1 a.m. on Sept. 21. He had arrived at the emergency department 34 hours earlier after being referred there by a clinic doctor because Sinclair hadn't urinated in 24 hours.

Video surveillance shows Sinclair speaking to a triage aide when he first arrives. The triage aide is seen writing something down on a piece of paper. That piece of paper has never been found and the aide has testified he doesn't remember Sinclair.

Video footage shows Sinclair wheeled himself into the waiting room, where he sat until he died of a treatable bladder infection caused by a blocked catheter.

A doctor who tried to revive him said Sinclair had been dead for hours.

Travis Minish, the emergency physician who was working when Sinclair was found dead Sept. 21, told the inquest the 45-year-old was extremely stiff when he was brought into the resuscitation room by a security guard and nurse.

Sinclair's jaw was clenched shut so it was impossible to insert an oxygen tube, Minish said. Sinclair's torso was cool and blood had begun to pool in his thighs, he said.

"At that point, we realized Mr. Sinclair had been dead for some period of time," Minish said. "We stopped trying to resuscitate him as we realized that would be unsuccessful."

Manitoba's medical examiner has testified Sinclair required about half an hour of a doctor's time. He needed his catheter changed and antibiotics prescribed.


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