An inquest examining the death of a man during a 34-hour wait in a Winnipeg hospital emergency room has seen video of Brian Sinclair’s final hours languishing in a waiting room.
Surveillance tape from two cameras at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre shows Mr. Sinclair being wheeled to the triage desk by a taxi driver at 2:53 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2008.
The taxi driver leaves the 45-year-old double-amputee in a lineup at the desk. After less than a minute, Mr. Sinclair is approached by a triage aide, who appears to talk to him and makes notes on a pad of paper. At one point, the aide leans in toward Mr. Sinclair.
There is no audio accompanying the video.
“There is no doubt he is addressing Brian Sinclair at this point,” Sergeant John O’Donovan, who is walking the inquest through hours of security footage, said Monday.
After about 30 seconds, Mr. Sinclair wheels himself into the waiting room and finds a spot to park in front of the security desk.
“He is able to manoeuvre his chair, backs it into that spot and he remains there,” Sgt. O’Donovan said. “He appears to be alert and aware of his surroundings.”
Sgt. O’Donovan spent hundreds of hours studying the surveillance footage as part of a year-long police investigation into Mr. Sinclair’s death. No criminal charges were laid.
Sgt. O’Donovan told the inquest that Mr. Sinclair didn’t leave the waiting room from the time he arrived until he was found dead 34 hours later.
Mr. Sinclair died of a treatable bladder infection caused by a blocked catheter. Manitoba’s chief medical examiner has testified that Mr. Sinclair needed about half an hour of a doctor’s time – to get his catheter changed and antibiotics prescribed to fight infection.
The video instead shows Mr. Sinclair waiting in the emergency room. He is not seen speaking to a nurse or having his vital signs checked.
The triage aide can be seen speaking to other patients who arrive at the emergency department and is also seen making notes on a pad of paper. Triage nurses also appear to handle a paper pad, but it is unclear if it’s the same one used by the aide.
The pad appeared to be used “just to get the names of people who needed to be triaged,” Sgt. O’Donovan said.
The video shows a man who came in immediately after Mr. Sinclair – and who spoke to the same aide – returning to the desk to speak to a nurse to be formally triaged.
Other patients who arrived after Mr. Sinclair are also seen being triaged as nurses appear to cross their names off the paper.
“Brian Sinclair is still sitting in the same area,” Sgt. O’Donovan said.
At one point, Mr. Sinclair is seen briefly wheeling past the triage desk and looking at the nurses, but he returns to the waiting area without speaking to anyone. As he continues to languish in the ER, people who were also waiting disappear.
Mr. Sinclair wheels himself over to just below the security camera and appears to fall asleep as he continues to wait overnight. Since he is positioned just below the security camera, he is only visible when the camera periodically scans the room.
Mr. Sinclair is last seen moving his head at 1 p.m. on Sept. 20.
As his wait surpasses 24 hours, Mr. Sinclair is shown sitting near the waiting room television, his head slumped forward.
The inquest has heard that Mr. Sinclair vomited on himself during his wait and security footage around 5:50 p.m shows him slumped over in his chair with a silver basin placed on the floor.
Mr. Sinclair does not appear to move again, Sgt. O’Donovan said.
The last time Mr. Sinclair appears on camera, around 11:45 p.m., he is still slumped over.
The medical examiner has already testified that by the time a fellow patient approached security with concerns about Mr. Sinclair, around midnight, rigor mortis had begun to set in.
The inquest is scheduled to continue this week then resume in October.