Guard testifies in ER waiting room death
Aug 28, 2013 / 8:52 pm
A security guard testified Wednesday that nurses thought he was joking when he told them that a man had died during a 34-hour wait in a hospital emergency room.
Security supervisor Gary Francis told an inquest into Brian Sinclair's death that he had greeted the double-amputee the night he arrived at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre ER in September 2008.
The following evening, Francis noticed that Sinclair was still in the same spot.
"He was sort of just sleeping," Francis told Judge Tim Preston.
Around midnight, Francis was approached by a woman who said she thought Sinclair was dead. Francis said he explained that Sinclair slept with his head slumped over, but the woman insisted and added that the man's catheter was disconnected and empty.
The two went over to Sinclair. Francis said he tapped him on the shoulder and called his name.
"There was no response. I pinched his neck and there was still no response."
Francis said he put his hand on Sinclair's forehead and his head was stiff and tough to push back.
"His eyes were completely black."
Francis wheeled Sinclair over to two nurses who were talking and said, "I need help. I think this fellow is dead."
"They looked at me and thought I was joking."
When a male nurse took Sinclair's pulse, they "realized I was speaking the truth." Sinclair was taken into a resuscitation room where Francis helped lift him onto a bed.
"His entire body was stiff as a board."
Doctors tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead several minutes later, Francis said. Francis tried to get Sinclair's chart from the nurse on duty because he needed it for his report. He was told no chart had been created.
"He was never triaged at all."
Another security guard testified that he had raised concerns about how long Sinclair had been waiting. Ed Latour said he was working the 12-hour night shift when Sinclair first arrived.
Latour said he got worried when Sinclair was still in the same spot in the waiting room the following night.
"He was slumped over in his chair," Latour said. "He had his head bowed."
He said he went to the triage desk and spoke to the nurse on duty.
"I expressed that concern to the triage nurse and asked if he was going to be seen," Latour told the inquiry. "(The nurse) said he had been there the previous night, had been treated, gone home and returned."
Latour said he was assured "all was well with the patient" and that his "concerns were unwarranted."
He continued his patrol and found out a few hours later that Sinclair was dead.
"One receptionist came out in tears and expressed Brian Sinclair had passed away."
Sinclair had been admitted to the hospital's ER dozens of times over the years. The 45-year-old lost both his legs to frostbite in 2007 when he was found frozen to the steps of a church in the dead of winter.
Sinclair often came in and sometimes appeared intoxicated, Francis said.
"He would be yelling at the nurse because he wanted a blanket or a sandwich or some juice," said Francis, who added that Sinclair once took a swing at a nurse who tried to move his backpack.
The inquest is to sit Thursday and then is to adjourn until October.
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