OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has made policy changes and disciplined five employees after a 10-year-old girl died from an asthma attack, according to records from the agency.

The girl died on April 28 at a hospital after suffering an asthma attack at her aunt’s apartment, The Oklahoman reported. No charges were filed in the case.

Records show the girl and her siblings had been staying with their aunt while DHS worked to help their mother.

DHS Director Ed Lake said in a written statement that the child’s health was neglected because the staff involved in the case was “overly focused on correcting the mother’s problems.”

“Clearly we can, must and will keep improving,” Lake said.

An internal investigation found DHS child welfare specialists didn’t consult with the child’s physicians, acquire her medical records or check to see if she had her medication when she stayed with her aunt.

The child’s mother had been accused of neglecting her medical needs since 2012. The DHS child welfare specialist who looked into neglect allegations didn’t seek guidance from a DHS nurse, but said she did seek guidance in other cases “for things like diaper rashes at day care,” according to disciplinary records.

“No one who works for DHS intends for a child to be hurt or worse, but the results of our investigation indicate this was essentially a case of staff not seeing the forest for the trees,” Lake said.

Child welfare specialists are now required to consult a DHS nurse on all cases involving lack of medical attention.


Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com