Dr. Anna Pou, a well-respected otolaryngologist and associate professor of surgery at Louisiana State University, and nurses Lori L. Budo and Cheri Landry have been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The alleged crimes occurred during the days immediately after hurricane Katrina at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans.
This is an outrage. The details of exactly what happened on that hospital floor with caregivers stressed to their maximum under horrible circumstances with vulnerable and critically ill patients will probably never be known. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that in hindsight there was no acceptable outcome for the patients or the healthcare givers who did not abandon their posts, as did so many others in authority. The patients were facing horrible deaths if not treated and the caregivers were faced with deciding how best to lessen suffering. It is a widely accepted notion in medicine that drugs may be given that might hasten death if the intent is to alleviate suffering. In the cool and calm of a year’s reflection perhaps decisions were made that are now regretted. But, these professionals were essentially working under the conditions of war.
I would ask readers to consider what decision they would have wanted the caregivers to make if it had been their mother trapped on that hospital floor? Would they want caregivers to abandon their loved ones to whatever fate awaited them because they were afraid of how their treatment decisions might be judged afterwards.
I would also ask readers to consider this – this has for sure put a chilling damper on other physicians’ and nurses’ willingness to volunteer and “stay to help” in any upcoming catastrophes. And if the bird flu pandemic ever hits, the chaos, confusion, and lawlessness that happened in New Orleans is going to look like recess.
Dr. Pou’s colleagues have set up a legal defense fund in her behalf. To anyone wishing to contribute the checks should be made out to the Anna Pou MD Defense Fund and mailed to:
Dr. Daniel Nuss, MD
Professor and Chairman
LSU Department of Otolaryngology
533 Bolivar St.
5th floor ENT suite
New Orleans, LA 70112