Thirty-four. That is how many hours Brian Sinclair sat in a hospital waiting room, alone until he died.
This did not happen in a developing country where substandard medical care is a symptom of economic disparity. Sinclair died in a Canadian hospital, Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, in 2008.
Just as the second phase of the inquest into his death was set to start, Sinclair’s family and their legal team pulled out. Emily Hill, lawyer at Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, was in Winnipeg this week as a part of the legal team for the Sinclair inquest.
She said it was a difficult decision but that their presence became “irrelevant” after Judge Tim Preston narrowed the scope of the inquest.
The judge decided that race, poverty, disability, and substance abuse were beyond the jurisdiction of the inquest although the court did acknowledge that there were assumptions made about Sinclair on that day in 2008. A public inquiry would have to be opened in order for these issues to be addressed.
At age 45, Sinclair was a double amputee who was said to be a substance abuser and a frequent visitor to the ER.
It is a failure of the healthcare system, but it is also human failure. Sinclair did not have to die. He was suffering from a bladder infection – something treatable – that ultimately killed him.
Repeated attempts by other people in the waiting room to get help for Sinclair were ignored, reports CBC.
The HSC is not making any comments on the Sinclair case at this time.
Assumptions were made and a person died. Sinclair was aboriginal. He was left without help because hospital staff made assumptions about him. Nurses and security staff admitted believing that Sinclair was drunk and was just sleeping it off, according to CBC.
An inquest opened by Sinclair’s family and aboriginal groups was an attempt to determine whether aboriginal peoples in Canada are treated differently in the healthcare system.
As the second half of the inquest begins, the questions still remain as to whether anyone is legally responsible for the death of Sinclair. Whatever the outcome of the inquest it is clear that Brian Sinclair deserved better from those whose job it is protect, according to CBC.