For those who may have read my earlier posts (here, here, and here) about the possibility of euthanasia at a hospital in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricae Katrina, you may be interested in the following report on the conclusion of an investigation by the Louisiana Attorney General, just reported by CNN:
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) — In the desperate days after hurricane Katrina struck, a doctor and two nurses at a flooded New Orleans hospital allegedly killed four patients by giving them a lethal drug cocktail, Louisiana’s top law enforcement official said Tuesday.
“We’re talking about people that pretended that maybe they were God,” Attorney General Charles C. Foti Jr. said, announcing second-degree murder charges against Dr. Anna Pou, Lori L. Budo and Cheri Landry.
“This is not euthanasia. It’s homicide,” Foti said.
The charges stem from the post-Katrina deaths of some patients at New Orleans Memorial Medical Center.
An affidavit said tests determined that a lethal amount of morphine was administered on September 1 to four patients ages 62, 66, 89 and 90. Hurricane Katrina swamped the city on August 29.
According to the court document, the morphine was paired with midazolam hydrochloride, known by its brand name Versed. Both drugs are central nervous system depressants. Taken together, Foti said, they become “a lethal cocktail that guarantees that you die.”
The doctor and nurses were taken into custody late Monday, following a 10-month investigation that continues. Each was charged with four counts of being a principal to second-degree murder and released on $100,000 bond.
The original reports showed up in a British tabloid not known for its reliability, and this sourcing, as well as some of the details therein, led to widespread scepticism about their reliability. However, interviews with physicians and health care workers at Memorial Hospital raised troubling questions as well, and a formal investigation was launched. The investigation was delayed by the reluctance of the involved hospital personal to testify, as well as the difficulty of obtaining autopsy evidence on the badly decomposed bodies after the fact.
What struck me the most, at the time I first posted it, was the vehemence of some commenters about how ridiculous this report was. One suspects there will be no humble pie eaten by those who sarcastically castigated me for posting on such obviously fictitious urban legends.
But sometimes the truth can be more frightening than fiction.
UPDATE: Here’s some earlier media links filling in some detals of the investigation as it unfolded (I’ll keep this updated as more becomes available):
- CNN: Katrina Investigation Focuses on more than one person
- CNN: New Orleans doctor recalls dire scene
- CNN: New Orleans hospital operator has checkered past
- CNN: Staff at hospital debated euthanizing patients
- LifeSite: Court documents show hospital gave lethal injections
- AP: Bodies of Katrina patients to be tested for euthanasia drugs
- NPR: Euthanasia probe continuing in NO
- NOLA: Doctor, 2 Nurses charged in killing patients
- NOLA: Ethicists: Any deliberate killing crosses the line
- Disability group statement on NPR report
- AP: Doctor, 2 nurses charged
- Post-Courier: Charges over mercy killing
- Scholars say case won’t be easy
- Doctor, nurses used lethal injections to kill patients
- Arrest warrants and details of accusations from Louisiana DA
- Ethics discussion of Memorial Hospital events
- NOLA: Accused doctors calls get scrutiny
- Ethicists: No way to justify mercy deaths