Two paramedics who have been on limited duty after mistakenly determining that a man was dead were cleared to return to full duty Wednesday but still face reviews that could take two months to complete. Sources familiar with the investigation tell STATter911.com that flesh eating bacteria helped give the impression the 70-year-old man had died.
The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department had limited the duties of the paramedics after they walked away from the unconscious George Waters at about noon on Friday. Police had found Waters in his Glenarden home and requested EMS for a possible DOA. According to a statement on Friday the paramedics, assigned to Medic 846 (Largo), concurred with police that Waters had died.
About 90 mintues later, forensics investigators saw signs of life and an EMS team was called and transported him to Prince George’s Hospital Center.
Waters died the next night. It is not known if the delay adversely impacted his condition.
The sources, who were not authorized to discuss details of the investigation, indicate Waters was suffering from necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that can destroy skin and soft tissues beneath it. The odor and visual impression at the scene apparently gave the indication decomposition of the man’s body had already occurred.
The official word came in a press release last evening from Chief Spokesman Mark Brady. Here are excerpts:
The Emergency Medical Services Operational Program moved swiftly to initiate a clinical Quality Assurance Review of this incident. The Jurisdictional Medical Director, Dr. Terry Jodrie, interviewed both paramedics on Friday, just hours after the incident occurred. A Provider Action Notice was issued within 24 hours of the incident requiring all EMS personnel to review the Presumed Dead on Arrival (PDOA) protocols. This includes an update that most PDOA determinations must include a medical consult between the EMS care provider and a base station physician by EMS radio or telephone.
While the two paramedics have returned to full duty with clearance of the Medical Director, the Office of Professional Standards continues their review. This comprehensive process includes a review of applicable Departmental General Orders, Standard Operating Procedures and interviews of everyone involved. These reviews could take up to 2 months before being completed.
George VanDaniker, WUSA9.com, contributed to this story.