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									  CMAJ                                                                                                                                        News
High-profile death throws spotlight on error reports

M
            anitoba’s medical error re-
            porting system — thought
            to be among the most pro-
gressive in the country — has been
rocked by allegations that senior re-
gional health officials failed to dis-
close key facts surrounding the high-
profile death of a man who languished
for 34 hours in a Winnipeg emergency
room without receiving treatment.
    Manitoba is generally considered
one of the leading jurisdictions in
Canada when it comes to laws and pro-
                                              Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg




tocols for encouraging the disclosure of
medical errors, or critical incidents as
the provincial government calls them.
The province is one of only 3 with leg-
islation that allows doctors to apologize
to patients and their families without
fear it will be interpreted as an admis-
sion of liability. The province also
compels health care workers to come                                              Manitoba’s medical error reporting system has been held up as a beacon of progress
                                                                                 but that reputation has been dimmed because key fact were initially suppressed in last
forward with details of critical inci-
                                                                                 year’s death of a 45-year-old man who spent 34 hours in the waiting room of the Win-
dents, but protects them from publicity                                          nipeg Health Sciences Centre.
and legal liability.
    However, that system has been
shaken by the recent disclosure of addi-                                        tigations. However, the authority ini-        to own up to all the mistakes that were
tional facts surrounding the death of                                           tially claimed Sinclair, 45, went un-         made, she says. “The system is not bad,
Brian Sinclair, a homeless man who                                              treated because he did not approach the       but it’s not working. Manitoba is doing
died after spending nearly a day and a                                          triage desk, and thus was never regis-        a lot of things nobody else is doing [in
half unattended in the emergency room                                           tered in a queue to see a physician.          the area of patient safety and report-
of the Health Sciences Centre, Win-                                             That version of events was challenged         ing], but there is a lack of leadership
nipeg’s largest hospital.                           
								
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