The outcome would have been the same for an inmate who died from methanol poisoning even if he had been sent to hospital sooner, a doctor has testified.
Dr. John Bromley, who was conducting medical rounds at the Red Deer Remand Centre on Feb. 20, 2007, told a fatality inquiry that he doubted the outcome would have been different for Boris Leon Marianych, 51, of Red Deer.
The inquiry started in April and resumed with Bromley’s testimony on Tuesday.
Bromley told provincial court Judge Bert Skinner that testing, which could only have been conducted in a hospital, was required to properly assess Marianych. Tests would include a CAT scan and an examination for gas in arterial blood.
He said the tests take time even under hospital conditions.
Court heard earlier that methanol in the body produces formic acid, which attacks major organs. Once poisoning symptoms appear, the victim’s health deteriorates quickly.
Bromley said in his 32 years of practice, he’s never encountered a methanol poisoning case.
Marianych was arrested the day before his death by RCMP on an outstanding warrant.
Bromley said a nurse told him that Marianych had vision problems.
He said the man needed to be taken to the hospital but it wasn’t considered an emergency by the nurse. “My assumption was he would be taken to emergency.”
Bromley said he didn’t know until later that Marianych couldn’t be taken by remand staff because of short staffing. Remand protocol requires two officers accompany a prisoner to hospital. Another officer had to be called in.
A nurse testified earlier that when she checked Marianych about 8:45 a.m. on Feb. 20, she found a slightly elevated blood pressure but his breathing and temperature were normal.
Registered nurse Shelly Grant testified that Marianych needed to be sent to hospital but his condition wasn’t considered an emergency.
Grant, who has been a nurse for 38 years, said she believed the vision problem was because he was experiencing alcohol detoxification.
Grant said she had never cared for a person with methanol poisoning and didn’t know its symptoms.
Grant said she talked to psychologist Bruce Handley of Red Deer, who was asked to examine Marianych for possible mental health problems.
Bromley said he was told by the nurse that Marianych was “talking in a confused or strange way and had some complaint about his vision.”
Grant testified that Handley also said Marianych should be examined in hospital.
The judge was told earlier that centre policy has changed regarding officers checking inmates in the discharge and admitting area following an earlier internal review.
The policy is now for officers to check every 15 minutes on an inmate’s condition.
Dr. Peter Singer, deputy chief toxicologist for the Alberta Medical Examiners’s Office, said earlier that drinking methanol in small amounts is dangerous. Singer said methanol raises the acid level in the body and can blind a person and impair breathing.
Skinner will prepare a report for the provincial attorney general and possibly make recommendations to help prevent similar incidents.
He is prohibited from making findings of responsibility.