Two medics are “clinically suspended” after officials in Florida say they pronounced a man dead while he was still alive.
The medics with Clearwater Fire & Rescue responded to a home for a report of a man in cardiac arrest at 10 a.m. on Feb. 15, according to a statement sent to McClatchy News by Rob Shaw, a spokesman for the city of Clearwater.
Shortly after they arrived, the medics pronounced the 65-year-old man dead, the statement says.
Deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrived, and the medics left the scene.
A deputy then noticed that the man was still breathing, the statement says.
Deputies found that man had a pulse, according to a statement from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
They requested that medical crews return to the home and medics with Largo Fire Rescue responded just before 10:30 a.m., according to Shaw.
“They began patient care that ultimately resulted in the patient’s transport to a local hospital, where he remains,” Shaw said in a statement sent on Feb. 21.
The two Clearwater medics who responded to the call initially are on administrative duty and not allowed to provide care to patients, according to Shaw.
“Upon notification of this incident, we immediately removed both fire medics from their normal duties and discontinued their abilities to provide patient care, in conjunction with the county’s medical director,” Clearwater Fire Chief Scott Ehlers said in a statement. “On behalf of the city, I apologize for the actions and the inactions of our crew during this incident. We have strict policies and procedures in place that were not followed, according to our preliminary review. These two did not perform to the standard of care that our citizens expect and deserve…”
Clearwater’s interim city manager, Jennifer Poirrier, said in a statement that it was up to the city to prevent incidents like this from happening again.
“Our first responders proudly serve our community each and every day, and they are expected to help people when they need it the most,” the statement says. “When this does not occur at the level at which we expect, it is incumbent upon us to determine exactly what happened, why it happened, and then ensure it will never happen again.”
The man’s daughter, Phebe Maxwell, told WFLA that her father is in an intensive care unit at a hospital and is working with a speech therapist to address slowed speech.
“I’m frustrated, hurt and mad,” she told the outlet. “I don’t know what this is going to do to my dad. I don’t know what kind of life he’s going to have now.”
Maxwell did not respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
Clearwater is about 20 miles west of Tampa.
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