WINNIPEG – A 45-year-old man who died in a Winnipeg hospital emergency department after sitting there for 34 hours was known to medical staff, health officials confirmed Tuesday morning.
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority chief medical officer Brock Wright would not confirm or deny the man suffered from a mental illness or was homeless, but said he was known to Health Sciences Centre staff as someone who frequented their ER.
Wright said it’s possible the man had been dead for several hours when he was discovered in the waiting room by an observer – not a staff member – who alerted medical staff the man was unresponsive.
Wright said HSC staff often supply blankets to the homeless or inner-city dwellers looking for a warm place to sleep. Typically, Wright said they lay down or nap in the ER waiting room.
“It may be that these individuals didn’t realize that was an individual waiting for care,” Wright said.
The man was reportedly dropped off around 3 p.m. Friday and was found dead just after midnight Sunday.
Health Authority officials have launched a review into the man’s death, which is expected to answer how someone sat in the ER for 34 hours without having any contact with a triage nurse.
A report released this year by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy found that a small number of inner-city Winnipeggers who frequent emergency rooms are often classified as non or less urgent and may end up leaving the ER without being seen.