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Colo. family of patient who died after signing a refusal seeks answers

An allegedly hidden EMS report leads to an investigation on why Beryl Harman was not transported

By Bill Carey

HARTSEL, Colo. — A 67-year-old Colorado woman died in her home after her husband called 911, asking for her to be transported to the hospital. After an allegedly hidden EMS report turned up, an investigation into the patient’s death now focuses on two sides of the incident.

“My wife says she needs to go to the hospital,” Daniel Harman said to a 911 operator in November 2021 about his wife, Beryl. “She is just so super weak she cannot move. She is not as coherent as she should be.”

The coroner’s report lists Harman’s official cause of death as “complications of COVID-19.” Two veteran paramedics who used to work for South Park Ambulance District said there is more to the incident, Denver 7 reported.

The two former paramedics told Denver 7 the report showed Harman’s condition required an emergency transport. Instead, the responding paramedic documented the 67-year-old signed a medical refusal.

Thirty-five minutes after paramedics obtained a refusal and drove away, Daniel called 911 reporting that his wife had died.

Hartsel Fire Protection District Chief Brian Cook was a firefighter on the second call to the Harmans’ residence. Chief Cook said the first report was found in the bottom of a box after he had become chief.

“When we hide reports, when we hide documents, it makes us look bad,” Cook said. He told Denver 7 he believes it was intentionally placed out of sight by the previous chief.

“This is a very unfortunate incident,” South Park Ambulance District Chief Kevin Borns said. “People should take away that there are two sides to every story.”

When asked if the lead paramedic did anything wrong, Borns said the response was in line with protocol and that the paramedics in question were not disciplined.

“I would not say there was no reason for discipline. However, there would be a reason for education, spend some time, and maybe go through the call again,” Borns said. “I would say lessons to be learned is good documentation.”

“We always learn from our mistakes,” he added. “Nobody in this job is perfect.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently announced it has launched a new investigation into the incident.