That’s what Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. thinks the four days after Katrina were at Memorial Medical Center. Just like any other days.
On any other day in New Orleans, it would be hard to justify four mercy killings in a hospital like Memorial. On any other day, the hospital’s power would be on, and so would the air-conditioner and essential life-sustaining machines. On any other day, diesel trucks carrying fuel for the backup generators wouldn’t be blocked by flood waters. On any other day, the hospital would be fully-staffed and those caring for patients would not be sleep-deprived and on the verge of dehydration.
On any other day, those who were struggling to save their patients’ lives would not have been fearing for their own lives.
*If* the three people arrested for second-degree murder intentionally gave the four patients who died a combination of drugs that resulted in the patients’ deaths, the criminal justice community can not view the incident as if it happened on just any other day in New Orleans. You didn’t have to stay in New Orleans during Katrina to know that.
But the doctor and the two nurses arrested *did* stay. Foti focused on the four lives he thinks they took. How many lives were saved because they were here?
According to the T-P (previous link):
…the four patients were not under Pou's direct care. Instead, the four were patients of LifeCare Hospital as part of its arrangement to run the acute-care unit at Memorial.Where were the patients’ doctors? Do they bear any responsibility for the patients who died because they weren’t there to help?
"They were not her patients," Simmons said. "These were patients that didn't have doctors."
And where does LifeCare’s responsibility end? Of the 34 people who died at Memorial after the storm, 24 were LifeCare patients. Either LifeCare didn’t evacuate the patients or the patients were too sick to be evacuated. It was most likely the latter because LifeCare was a long-term acute care facility. They took care of complex medical conditions. Therefore, we can assume that LifeCare made a medical decision – not a moral or ethical decision – to leave those patients even though they may die.
One family member’s experience demonstrates this:
“When I left she wasn’t dying,” said McManus, whose mother, Wilda McManus, was staying at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. “If she had been evacuated, she could be here today.”A medical decision was made, and then enforced, to *not* evacuate Mrs. McManus. And, yet, Mrs. McManus still died. I am very sorry for her family’s loss, but the medical community disagreed with her daughter’s assertion that if she had been evacuated she would have lived. According to the experts – the people we rely on to make these tough medical decisions on any other day and especially in times of crises – Mrs. McManus would have died no matter what. This is the reality of Katrina.
McManus said her mother was being treated for a blood infection, not a life-threatening illness. McManus also said that when she left her mother Sept. 1 it wasn’t by choice.
“Police told me I had to go,” she said, adding that when she told them no, an officer drew his weapon. “When I told her I was going she screamed.”
McManus said her mother was in the facility run by LifeCare Holdings Inc.
And on this day that was not just any other day in New Orleans, another medical decision may have been made. If any medical professional intentionally gave a combination of drugs to a patient that resulted in the patient’s death, that too was a medical decision – not an ethical or moral decision. While ethics and morals may have been involved in the process, the ultimate decision would have to be based on medical principles – what can be done medically to help the patient.
Doctors can not sustain life, and certainly quality of life, indefinitely. Once the medical diagnosis was given that a patient would not live through the laborious rescue operation (remember, there were no operating elevators to get up to a helicopter on the roof or down to a boat at the ground, or flood, level), the only medical option was to ease the suffering of a slow, most likely painful death if the patient were left alone in the 100+ degree temperature with no food or water. And a lethal dose of medicine may have been the only thing a good doctor could have done for his or her patient on this day like no other in New Orleans.