WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) - The Metropolitan Police Department is now handling the investigation of a paramedic who was in charge of the care for two-year-old Stephanie Stephens when a decision was made not to take the little girl to the hospital in the early morning hours of February 10th. A second crew transported Stephens to Children's National Medical Center about nine-hours later. She died the next day at the hospital. Her family says the girl had pneumonia.
Officials have not said why the girl wasn't taken to the hospital after the first call, but Mayor Adrian Fenty, flanked by his attorney general, police chief and fire chief, said at a press conference there is enough concern that a criminal review of the unidentified veteran paramedic's actions is warranted. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says that investigation will be handled by the homicide detectives in the Special Victim's Unit. Lanier says the detectives specialize in dealing with the deaths of children.
The family of the girl has indicated an EMS crew member pointed out the difficulty of traveling on snow clogged streets in the middle of the second of two back-to-back blizzards to hit Washington. Sources have indicated the paramedic crew failed to get a signed release from the girl's mother or fill out an electronic patient care report. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin said there is a specific protocol on handling an incident where the patient is not transported to the hospital.
Attorney General Peter Nickles says the criminal review only involves the paramedic and not the EMT who was her partner on the call. In today's Washington Post an editorial is critical of the progress made by the city since the death of former New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum in 2006. It echoes a recent letter to the editor by a top doctor at Children's National Medical Center. When asked about such criticism, Mayor Adrian Fenty points to the more than 140,000 EMS calls in the city that are handled without incident. Fenty says he has full confidence in Chief Rubin who is just short of his third anniversary as fire chief in the Nation's Capital.