The Maryland Board of Medical Examiners voted Thursday to place two Prince George's County paramedics on a year's probation for stopping rescue attempts on a shooting victim without receiving a doctor's order first.
The victim, William Virgil Robinson, 38, of Washington, was shot by police at the Eastover Shopping Center in Oxon Hill last October. He was pronounced dead at Prince George's General Hospital.
The paramedics violated medical protocol but did not endanger Robinson's life, according to Dr. Arthur Keefe, director of the Board of Medical Examiners.
Keefe said the paramedics, William R. Hudelson and James Breen, decided on their own that Robinson was dead and attempted to ask a physician by radio whether they could stop giving Robinson oxygen. But "communications broke down," according to Keefe. When the two were unable to contact the physician, they decided on their own to stop giving Robinson oxygen, Keefe said.
"This was purely a violation of protocol," said Keefe. "Once rescue efforts are started, they must be continued until a doctor orders them to stop."
Keefe said there was no evidence that Robinson was still alive when the rescue technicians stopped giving him oxygen. He said he was not aware of a witness' statement that Robinson was groaning after the rescue effort stopped.
The issue came to the board's attention, according to Keefe, because county fire department officials noticed that reports of the shooting contained no mention of a physician's order to stop giving Robinson medical care. "Extensive reports are made out for every incident," said Keefe. "When something like this comes up, someone will say, who said to stop giving medical care ?"
The paramedics, who are part of the fire department's rescue squad, had been placed on three months' probation by the fire department-- meaning that any violation of approved procedures can be cause for dismissal. The recommendation by the Board of Medical Examiners would extend the probation period by nine months.
The recommendation will be considered by the Maryland Commission of Medical Discipline, which is not bound to adopt the board's recommendation, according to Bob Dobart, the commission's administrator.
The paramedics did not attend the board's meeting. They could not be reached for comment yesterday. County fire department spokesman Capt. Jim Mundy refused comment on the board's action.