Flashing Lights on DC EMS Rules

No more guessing over who goes to the hospital

By Nancy Norman
|  Friday, May 7, 2010  |  Updated 11:16 PM EDT
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Flashing Lights on DC EMS Rules

Stephanie Stephens

Look for a "patient's bill of rights" to be posted in D.C. Fire and EMS ambulances.

D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Dennis L. Rubin  said the department is partnering with Childrens National Medical Center to provide quality medical care for children. And all this scrutiny of the rules regarding the transporting of patients in the District should improve the situation for everyone involved. 

Spurred on by the investigation of the death of 2-year-old Stephanie Stephens last February, the chief is taking a long hard look at who goes to the hospital in a D.C. ambulance and who doesn't.

Last February, paramedics went to Stephanie's home twice and both times declined to put the toddler in an ambulance and take her to the hospital. She was having breathing problems. The recommendation was to take Stephanie into the bathroom to breathe steam.  The third time they arrived at the home, Stephanie was finally put in an ambulance and taken to the hospital, where she died from pneumonia.

Now, no emergency responders will refuse to take anyone patient to the hospital by ambulance who thinks they need to go. And if paramedics believe someone absolutely should to go to the hosptal -- and that person refuses to go -- responders are required to get an OK from a supervisor and get a witness, such as a police officer, to confirm the patient's decision.

The criminal investigation regarding the death of Stephanie Stephens is almost finished. The names of the medical personnel involved have never been released.

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