Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Canadian man waited a day in ER, died waiting

Brian Sinclair

Brian Sinclair

Like something out of an absurd late-night comedy sketch, the doctor that finally examined double amputee Brian Sinclair, who had been waiting in a Winnipeg emergency room for a whole day, said Sinclair had been dead for hours.

The inquest continues into the emergency-room related death of aboriginal man Brian Sinclair, 45, who was referred to the ER by his doctor for a blocked catheter. He was pronounced dead at 1 a.m. September 21, 2013, a full 34 hours after he checked in to the ER. A review of the surveillance footage reportedly shows Sinclair talking to triage aide Jordan Loechner, who writes something down. Loechner does not remember the incident and no one knows what was on  the paper.

What is known is that:

  • Manitoba medical examiner Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra testified that Sinclair would have lived with treatment. He required only 30 minutes of medical treatment to change the catheter and prescribe antibiotics for a urinary track infection.
  • The hospital’s internal investigation revealed that Sinclair had spoken with 17 different staff members, while he deteriorated, but that no one asked if he wanted to see a doctor. Some thought he was waiting for a ride, others that he was in police custody for being drunk since he was in a wheelchair. In that case he still would have required a medical assessment, which was not given.
  • Dennis Grant, waiting at the ER with his family tried to help Sinclair, who was by then about 24 hours into his ordeal. Grant told authorities, “I thought he was blind because he didn’t seem to focus on anything. His eyes looked glazed over. 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.”
  • At this point Sinclair began vomiting. He was given a bucket, the mess was cleaned, both times that Sinclair vomited, but no more attention was given to the dying man.
  • By the time Sinclair was to be given resuscitation, rigor mortis had already set in. Travis Minish, the ER doctor said that by then Sinclair’s jaw was clamped shut, he was stiff, he was cold and blood had begun to pool in his thighs, ”At that point, we realized Mr. Sinclair had been dead for some period of time.”  Sinclair had died in his wheelchair.

Grant admitted that the ER was “extremely busy,” and that Sinclair was “exceptionally dirty,” and could have been taking shelter in the ER. Sinclair’s family alleges racism as the reason he was left to die. The inquest continues.

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