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An average American that has some thoughts on politics, culture, and society with a conservative and Catholic twist.

Location: Louisiana, United States
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Ghost of Katrina- Panic, Euthanasia ,and Moral Choices Revisted.

It is sometimes difficult to remember how bad and chaotic events are after some times passes. 911 is a prime example of how many forget the horror and evil that took place that day. New Orleans during Katrina is another event to where memories are starting to fade at the pure chaos and fear that was New Orleans. Later we learned that much that chaos and fear was prompted by just plan fear and rumor.
There were tales of people being murdered in the convention center, of people resorting to eating dead people, of chaos in the Superdome. Many horrible things happened but more importantly much of what was reported was not happening in reality. People in these situations lose reason and human judgment. That very well might have happened in the case that I hope to follow on this blog. This case will and needs to be closely followed. These people are innocent until proven guilty. Even if they are guilty there should be legitimate discussion about mitigating factors.
But I must say even before the waters starting receding from New Orleans there were stories afoot that something went horribly wrong at the Baptist Hospital in New Orleans. There were heroic stories there as well as at Tulane Medical and the Charity Hospital. But I have a sense again something went horribly wrong here. There is a lesson that neds to be learned from this for the next disaster. Also, we must fight that no matter how bad the circumstance, this cannot be a precedent for Euthanasia. I am sure Right to Die Advocates have their attention on this case right now.

NEW ORLEANS, United States (AFP) - US investigators have charged a doctor and two nurses with murder in the deaths of four patients in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, officials said.
"We're talking about people that pretended maybe they were God and they made that decision," Louisiana attorney general Charles Foti said at a press conference in the state capitol of Baton Rouge.
"This is not euthanasia. This is a homicide."
The affidavit charged that the three gave lethal doses of morphine and another drug to patients at Memorial Medical Center who were deemed too sick to be evacuated three days after the hurricane devastated New Orleans on August 29.
Two of the victims were in their 90s and two were in their 60s, including a 380-pound man who was described as "alert" but paralyzed.

Doctor Anna Pou, 50, and nurses Cheri Landry, 49, and Lori Budo, 43, were charged with four counts of second-degree murder. They were released on bail to await formal arraignment.

The charges followed an investigation launched after rumors circulated that medical staff had euthanized patients whom they thought would not survive the harsh conditions that followed Katrina, including lack of food, drinking water and air conditioning.
The attorney general's office investigated 13 nursing homes and five hospitals throughout the region but found credible evidence of mercy killings at only one.
Four hospital administrators at Memorial Medical Center heard of plans to give patients lethal doses, although none of the key witnesses said they knew who made the decision, the affidavit said.
During a meeting about the evacuation plan, one hospital administrator who has not been charged told employees they did not expect to evacuate nine critically ill patients.
She also said the plan was they "were not going to leave any living patients behind."
Pou later told a hospital worker that many of the patients on the seventh floor "were probably not going to survive" and that "a decision had been made to administer lethal doses," the affidavit said.

At least one patient was "aware, conscious and alert, but he weighed 380 pounds and was paralyzed. Dr Pou decided that (he) could not be evacuated... and that they didn't have a lot of time and that she needed to clear the floors as soon as they could," the affidavit said.
Court documents show that the killings were not done in secret.
Budo was observed giving an injection to a 92-year-old man who said, "That burns," as she administered a lethal dose of morphine.
The attorney general said that more charges could be laid in the case, and that more victims might be found among the 45 bodies recovered from the hospital -- 11 of which were already in the morgue when the storm hit.
He also said he believed the patients "would have lived through it" if Pou and the nurses had not taken "the law into their own hands."
But Pou's lawyer said the attorney general was more interested in staging a "media event" for political gain than in pursing justice.
"It's a year later and the blame game is now shifting to a doctor and two nurses and maybe others," Rick Simmons said at a press conference in New Orleans.
"They're victims of the storm not victims of homicide... There's no criminal misconduct."
Simmons said Pou - who was arrested in her hospital scrubs - would plead not guilty to the charges.
Most of New Orleans was flooded by Hurricane Katrina, which killed as many as 1,500 people across the Gulf Coast. Much of the city was without power, water or transportation.
Emergency generators in the city's hospitals quickly ran out of fuel and hospital staff used flashlights to tend to patients in the sweltering heat and stench of backed-up sewage.
Outside, the city descended into chaos and evacuations were stymied by reports of snipers shooting at medical helicopters.
The decision to impose murder charges does not sufficiently address the issue of motive and the complex ethical questions underlying the situation, University of New Orleans criminologist Peter Scharf told AFP.
"This is a case that involves a clash possibly between moral duty and legal duty," he said.
"The issue that escapes discussion in the action of the attorney general is ... what are your duties in that kind of situation? Were these acts of conscience or acts of crime

The nurses and doctor that are charged are here. All appear to have good qualification and had been in the profession for many years.
Dr. Anna Pou, 50, was an ear, nose and throat specialist at Memorial Medical Center when Katrina hit on August 29. A New Orleans native, Pou studied at Louisiana State University's medical school and did her residency at the University Of Pittsburgh. She completed a fellowship in head and neck surgery and microvascular reconstructive surgery at Methodist Hospital of Indiana.
From 1997 to 2004, she served on the faculty of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. She joined the LSU Health Sciences Center as an associate professor in September 2004.

-- Nurse Lori L. Budo, 43, lived in Harahan, Louisiana. Her attorney, Eddie Castaing, said she has been a registered nurse at the hospital since 1985 and was working in the intensive care unit when the hurricane struck.

-- Nurse Cheri A. Landry, 49, lived in Metairie, Louisiana. Her attorney, John DiGiulio, said she has been a nurse for more than 20 years, more than 10 of them at Memorial Medical.

From the relatives of the those that died:"I consider the nurses murderers. They were in a bad situation, but they were murderers," Lou Ann Savoie Jacob said Wednesday.
Her 90-year-old mother, Rose Savoie, was among those prosecutors say were killed by Dr. Anna Pou and nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry at Memorial Medical Center, where patients and staff were stranded for days without running water or communications after the hurricane overwhelmed New Orleans' levees......According to court documents released Tuesday by the Attorney General's Office, Budo was seen injecting Savoie with something Sept. 1, three days after Katrina left four-fifths of the city under water. "That burns," the 90-year-old woman allegedly said when she was injected. The daughter of another patient in the case said her mother, Ireatha Watson, had been very sick, with gangrene in both legs and dementia, but that she had been stable two days before Katrina hit. Watson, 89, had been scheduled to have her legs amputated Aug. 29, the day the hurricane hit.
"I found it strange that she passed away the way she did, and I couldn't get any information," said Paulette Harris, Watson's daughter.
The widow of another victim, 61-year-old Emmett Everett Sr., declined to comment Wednesday. Everett, who was 380 pounds and paralyzed, appeared "conscious, awake and alert" before he was sedated, according to the arrest affidavit in the case

Also there might have been more deaths at were brought on unnaturally. 35 people died in that hospital during this hell that the hurricane brought. These were the ones out of the chaos that looked suspcious

Now I realize that this topic will be emotional. But let me clarify some things. First these patients were not in danger. They were not going to drown. I think people panicked. Their world seemed to be falling apart. There were people dying, in pain, in horrible conditions. I think people lost judgement. There were rumors of gangs attacking children hospitals that was reported on the media ,that I am sure were being factored into this weird chaotic thought process.
However, any clearheaded thinking person would know when help arrived that whatever "Authority" that was would not leave people there. It is unthinkable that the Louisiana National Guard, the State Police, or Wildlife and Fisheries would have said "got to leave the critically ill behind". But it appears that people thought that by some misunderstanding
There will be a mitigating factors. But if this is proven, this can't be allowed to set a precedent by excusing this behavior. This situation needs to be studied by medical schools and hospital management and not just legal minds. There will be another disaster either man made or natural. We need to learn from this and make sure it doesn't happen again

Other related articles

Ethicists: Any deliberate killing crosses the line...


Blogger Ken Prescott said...

If they did it, they need to dance Danny Deever.

9:59 AM  

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