ENT surgeon in New Orleans charged with murder...this makes me sick

gaikokujin

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this makes me sick. I'm working at a New Orleans hospital this summer and the reaction from everyone in the hospital has been one of revulsion towards these charges. This woman was a good doctor who has devoted her life to helping people. What is wrong with this world? We should be charging Micheal Brown with 2nd degree murder, not these people. In LA a conviction of 2nd degree murder is mandatory life in prison without parole.

How can these people second guess what this doctor did in that hellish situation during Katrina? I don't care if she did euthanise those patients, she does more good for society out of prison and with an intact medical licence that in prison. Don't our prosecutors have better things to do with their time like perhaps find out who shot 5 kids a mile from my house? WTF. As they said in the article, it is a SIN to charge people like this with murder.

Excuse me while i go vomit.

Read about it here.
 

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gaikokujin said:
this makes me sick. I'm working at a New Orleans hospital this summer and the reaction from everyone in the hospital has been one of revulsion towards these charges. This woman was a good doctor who has devoted her life to helping people. What is wrong with this world? We should be charging Micheal Brown with 2nd degree murder, not these people. In LA a conviction of 2nd degree murder is mandatory life in prison without parole.

How can these people second guess what this doctor did in that hellish situation during Katrina? I don't care if she did euthanise those patients, she does more good for society out of prison and with an intact medical licence that in prison. Don't our prosecutors have better things to do with their time like perhaps find out who shot 5 kids a mile from my house? WTF. As they said in the article, it is a SIN to charge people like this with murder.

Excuse me while i go vomit.

Read about it here.
Euthanasia in lieu of an attempt of evacuation doesn't sound like a sound course of action or good medicine. It would be murder in most states. Whether one is found guilty of a crime has nothing to do with their worth to society out of prison, it has to do with their actions, and whether they abide by the laws of the state. And the ten commandments are pretty clear on this one too (since you speak of sin, a religious concept.)
 

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gaikokujin said:
this makes me sick. I'm working at a New Orleans hospital this summer and the reaction from everyone in the hospital has been one of revulsion towards these charges. This woman was a good doctor who has devoted her life to helping people. What is wrong with this world? We should be charging Micheal Brown with 2nd degree murder, not these people. In LA a conviction of 2nd degree murder is mandatory life in prison without parole.

How can these people second guess what this doctor did in that hellish situation during Katrina? I don't care if she did euthanise those patients, she does more good for society out of prison and with an intact medical licence that in prison. Don't our prosecutors have better things to do with their time like perhaps find out who shot 5 kids a mile from my house? WTF. As they said in the article, it is a SIN to charge people like this with murder.

Excuse me while i go vomit.

Read about it here.
Agreed. Worst-case scenario this woman is guilty of error in judgement and should be facing (at worst) sanctions from her licensing board not facing criminal prosecution, let alone 2nd degree murder! I can't imagine what kind of stress they were under w/out electricity, all the flooding, little communication, patients dying...investigate absolutely, but come on.
 
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gaikokujin

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Law2Doc said:
Euthanasia in lieu of an attempt of evacuation doesn't sound like a sound course of action or good medicine. It would be murder in most states. Whether one is found guilty of a crime has nothing to do with their worth to society out of prison, it has to do with their actions, and whether they abide by the laws of the state. And the ten commandments are pretty clear on this one too (since you speak of sin, a religious concept.)

so you think they should have let these critically ill people suffer in 100+degree heat and 100% humidity who were being ventilated by hand for days (with no end in sight) live -- or is it better to divert these valuable resources to the other patients who have a chance of living? The people trapped in memorial had no communication with the outside world and had dwindling resources with which to treat their patients. At some point one has to expect the doctors to make an executive decision which will save the most lives. Who are we to second guess this?
 
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gaikokujin

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AngryBaby said:
Agreed. Worst-case scenario this woman is guilty of error in judgement and should be facing (at worst) sanctions from her licensing board not facing criminal prosecution, let alone 2nd degree murder! I can't imagine what kind of stress they were under w/out electricity, all the flooding, little communication, patients dying...investigate absolutely, but come on.

here here
 

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Although one will be judged by the laws of the state, there has been precident and change despite law. The infamous physician who wrote to the NEMJ documenting his physician assisted suicide case and telling his story of how and why he did it, was charged, and acquitted. Physician assisted suicide is still illegal in most states, but he was acquitted.

I personally am not taking a stand on either side, as it is a slippery slope eitherway. However, I have to say in my short clinical career (I am only a 4th year med student), I have seen the lines of ethics and law blurred in many many difficult and unique situations. Before coming to those situations, I had preconceived notions. When faced with the exact situation with the patients, family, and medical team, I can tell you that many times what was done was not cut and dry right or wrong legally or textbook ethicall, but it was what we all concluded was the right thing for the patient. Just something to ruminate on...

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sscooterguy said:
Although one will be judged by the laws of the state, there has been precident and change despite law. The infamous physician who wrote to the NEMJ documenting his physician assisted suicide case and telling his story of how and why he did it, was charged, and acquitted. Physician assisted suicide is still illegal in most states, but he was acquitted.

I personally am not taking a stand on either side, as it is a slippery slope eitherway. However, I have to say in my short clinical career (I am only a 4th year med student), I have seen the lines of ethics and law blurred in many many difficult and unique situations. Before coming to those situations, I had preconceived notions. When faced with the exact situation with the patients, family, and medical team, I can tell you that many times what was done was not cut and dry right or wrong. Just something to ruminate on...

sscooterguy
I agree with your point, scooterguy, and I'm not saying there shouldn't be a debate regarding this particular situation. I am against criminal prosecution here but I can see the other side of that argument. 2nd degree murder is ludicrous...I would think at worst manslaughter (and this may still get plea-bargained down-Law2Doc could provide some insight I'm sure). This thing smells like a witchhunt/PR stunt with all the interviews and statements the prosecutor or DA is making (whichever). I'm not disagreeing with the thought regarding the doc's actions as being immoral, I need to do alot more thinking in that regard. I am vigorously disagreeing with the criminal prosecution aspect.

BTW-this wasn't assisted suicide.
 

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gaikokujin said:
this makes me sick. I'm working at a New Orleans hospital this summer and the reaction from everyone in the hospital has been one of revulsion towards these charges. This woman was a good doctor who has devoted her life to helping people. What is wrong with this world? We should be charging Micheal Brown with 2nd degree murder, not these people. In LA a conviction of 2nd degree murder is mandatory life in prison without parole.

How can these people second guess what this doctor did in that hellish situation during Katrina? I don't care if she did euthanise those patients, she does more good for society out of prison and with an intact medical licence that in prison. Don't our prosecutors have better things to do with their time like perhaps find out who shot 5 kids a mile from my house? WTF. As they said in the article, it is a SIN to charge people like this with murder.

Excuse me while i go vomit.

Read about it here.
The AG is just attacking these doctors and nurses to pander to the religious right - he's running for re-election. God I hate politics.
 

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AngryBaby said:
BTW-this wasn't assisted suicide.
Yes, for sure this was not assisted suicide. I brought up the case because it was deemed an unlawful act, yet he was not found guilty. These decisions are incredibly difficult and unique. I'm glad people are thinking and discussing this and not flat out arguing (yet).

sscooterguy
 

silas2642

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sscooterguy said:
Although one will be judged by the laws of the state, there has been precident and change despite law. The infamous physician who wrote to the NEMJ documenting his physician assisted suicide case and telling his story of how and why he did it, was charged, and acquitted. Physician assisted suicide is still illegal in most states, but he was acquitted.

I personally am not taking a stand on either side, as it is a slippery slope eitherway. However, I have to say in my short clinical career (I am only a 4th year med student), I have seen the lines of ethics and law blurred in many many difficult and unique situations. Before coming to those situations, I had preconceived notions. When faced with the exact situation with the patients, family, and medical team, I can tell you that many times what was done was not cut and dry right or wrong legally or textbook ethicall, but it was what we all concluded was the right thing for the patient. Just something to ruminate on...

sscooterguy
First of all, primum non nocere. Second of all, I haven't heard any evidence that the patients wanted to die; as far as I know they didn't sign a consent, consult with their family to make an informed and rational decision to die, nada. So if you're trying to argue physician assisted suicide, I think that that is probably out the window.

We don't get to make decisions on who lives and who dies, what the minimum quality of life should be, and when someone's life should end because of high humidity and heat; that's just not was physicians do. We take a vow to preserve life, to maintain the quality of life as well as quantity, but to not take it away from someone.
 

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sometimes you have to let people die. It's just triage. Yes, I know that's reserved for emergent situations and so forth. However, one could argue that this was an emergent situation. No one expects a mass casualty scenario in a hospital, but it seems like that's what this was.
 

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Hello? Innocent until proven guilty. Not true in the court of the press, but I'd think that she could at least get that much from us...
 

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silas2642 said:
First of all, primum non nocere. Second of all, I haven't heard any evidence that the patients wanted to die; as far as I know they didn't sign a consent, consult with their family to make an informed and rational decision to die, nada. So if you're trying to argue physician assisted suicide, I think that that is probably out the window.

We don't get to make decisions on who lives and who dies, what the minimum quality of life should be, and when someone's life should end because of high humidity and heat; that's just not was physicians do. We take a vow to preserve life, to maintain the quality of life as well as quantity, but to not take it away from someone.
And we weren't there either to see exactly what the circumstances were in this very unique situation. This is not directed to anyone specifically, but people need to see what suffering is. Spend some time in the ICU and tell me patients don't want to die. 99% of the ones that stay in the ICU for longer than 1 week are kept there by loved ones clinging to hope. Where were the loved ones, most of them not there (by no fault of their own, but not there nonetheless). Where were the lawyers, not there, government, not there. Who WAS there at personal risk? The physician.

Now looking at the situation from hind site, I personally would not take on the grave responsibility of the actions that happened. But that's in hind site, and I was not there to see it for myself.

sscooterguy
 
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Law2Doc said:
Euthanasia in lieu of an attempt of evacuation doesn't sound like a sound course of action or good medicine. It would be murder in most states. Whether one is found guilty of a crime has nothing to do with their worth to society out of prison, it has to do with their actions, and whether they abide by the laws of the state. And the ten commandments are pretty clear on this one too (since you speak of sin, a religious concept.)
The problem was that there was no help in sight. There was no "attempt of evacuation". I'm speculating, but it seems that the providers were seeing a hopeless situation with the very real potential of prolonged suffering.

And to pass judgement on those in a situation that most of us can't image doesn't quite seem fair. I realize that the law tends to be black and white when it comes to situations like these. And that popular opinion and the law are entirely different things. But, I still feel that all of the circumstantial complications should be accurately represented in their defense.

This case reaks of politics and religious opinion.
 

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#1 There is no clear cut evidence of murder
#2 Conflicting reports from hospital officials on what happened
#3 There is a difference between terminal sedation and euthanasia, and this may have been the case.
#4 Accidental deaths do happen when using sedation

= Not guilty verdict for the 3 individuals
This is a political show on the part of the AG.
 

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silas2642 said:
We don't get to make decisions on who lives and who dies, what the minimum quality of life should be, and when someone's life should end because of high humidity and heat; that's just not was physicians do.
In that situation, who does? I doubt they had access to an ethics consult or social workers while the hospital/city was falling apart around them.
 

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cfdavid said:
The problem was that there was no help in sight. There was no "attempt of evacuation". I'm speculating, but it seems that the providers were seeing a hopeless situation with the very real potential of prolonged suffering.

And to pass judgement on those in a situation that most of us can't image doesn't quite seem fair. I realize that the law tends to be black and white when it comes to situations like these. And that popular opinion and the law are entirely different things. But, I still feel that all of the circumstantial complications should be accurately represented in their defense.

This case reaks of politics and religious opinion.
Under the laws of the state of Louisiana no one made this doctor judge, jury and executioner (for the sake of debate let's assume she did what the paper suggests, although of course she gets a presumption of innocence). You don't get to do things in flagrant disregard of the law, even if in your opinion (or even in reality) they are what's best for the patient. That you went to med school does not give you any right to break the law. Sometimes you are duty bound to do other than you think is right, simply because society has deemed it so. If you break this social compact, you get punished.
And to not follow the law in this case creates a slippery slope precedent. If this doctor gets away with it, what about the next doctor, where the case is not quite as hopeless? Do we really want to draw a line and let doctors try to use their judgement as to when they are allowed to "off" their patients? It's simply better to say you can never do this, and have everyone follow, or face the legal consequences.
As for a plea bargain, sure, she will have that option - if she prefers to accept lesser consequences (but still likely jail time and loss of a medical license) rather than get a day in court to appeal in front of a jury.
 

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latinfridley said:
#1 There is no clear cut evidence of murder
You don't need clear cut evidence of murder. Most people are convicted of crimes on circumstancial evidence of lesser quantity than this. With the right jury a good prosecutor could definitely win this one.
 

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Law2Doc said:
That you went to med school does not give you any right to break the law.
True, but it does give you the best decision-making capability regarding medical options for patients, and, hopefully, better or equal to that of any other doctors or lawyers in retrospect, especially since they were not placed in that unique situation themselves.

Law2Doc said:
It's simply better to say you can never do this, and have everyone follow, or face the legal consequences.
Or, perhaps, that the potential unlawfulness will be sorted out later if you do.

In general, legally/morally/etc., does/should the situation itself warrant different considerations when discussing what was "right" and what was "wrong?" Does the law necessarily account for such extreme and dire situations?

Also, I wonder whether these womens' religiosity, reputations, and even gender will come into play in their favor. Any thoughts on that, anyone?
 

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The people who are arguing in defense of the accused are right in that they are innocent until proven guilty, but their argument stands on a very slippery slope. I know that there is a lot of suffering that goes on in hospitals, but I stand by my beliefs in stating that it is not right for a physician, nurse, or anyone else for that matter, to take the life of a patient, people who we take oaths to help.

Studies have shown that a lot of people who "want to die" are often dealing with untreated depression or have poor pain management. Is life so unprecious that we are willing to kill off those who appear to be suffering? Should we help mentally ill patients commit suicide, kill off the mentally ******ed who are "suffering," what next?
 

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Law2Doc said:
Euthanasia in lieu of an attempt of evacuation doesn't sound like a sound course of action or good medicine. It would be murder in most states. Whether one is found guilty of a crime has nothing to do with their worth to society out of prison, it has to do with their actions, and whether they abide by the laws of the state. And the ten commandments are pretty clear on this one too (since you speak of sin, a religious concept.)
These are normally ventilated patients (from my understanding of the case) in a hospital in the middle of a disaster area without electricity. They patients had to be suffering, so prove to me that this wasn't double intent-- narcotics and benzos are a great way to relieve such suffering, of course too much in a compromised individual might cause respiratory depression...
 

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Law2Doc said:
Under the laws of the state of Louisiana no one made this doctor judge, jury and executioner (for the sake of debate let's assume she did what the paper suggests, although of course she gets a presumption of innocence). You don't get to do things in flagrant disregard of the law, even if in your opinion (or even in reality) they are what's best for the patient. That you went to med school does not give you any right to break the law. Sometimes you are duty bound to do other than you think is right, simply because society has deemed it so. If you break this social compact, you get punished.
And to not follow the law in this case creates a slippery slope precedent. If this doctor gets away with it, what about the next doctor, where the case is not quite as hopeless? Do we really want to draw a line and let doctors try to use their judgement as to when they are allowed to "off" their patients? It's simply better to say you can never do this, and have everyone follow, or face the legal consequences.
As for a plea bargain, sure, she will have that option - if she prefers to accept lesser consequences (but still likely jail time and loss of a medical license) rather than get a day in court to appeal in front of a jury.
Her actions didn't exist in a vacuum, and the environment she made them in has to count for something-Didn't the government suspend certain aspects of the social compact in order to restore order, if so how is this different from the doctors situation? NO the fact that she went to med school doesn't give her the authority to make an executive decision, the circumstances did, and they required judgement and action. As for the slippery slope of precedent, this would only set precedent in cases of disaster & catastrophy, not your average day where the accepted law of the land would apply.
What if she just left them to suffer and pass away due to natural causes because she was required elsewhere, would this then absolve her from culpability?
 
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velo said:
These are normally ventilated patients (from my understanding of the case) in a hospital in the middle of a disaster area without electricity. They patients had to be suffering, so prove to me that this wasn't double intent-- narcotics and benzos are a great way to relieve such suffering, of course too much in a compromised individual might cause respiratory depression...
I don't think we can overstate the stress this doc and her support staff were under. It sounds like at least 20 or so patients had already died, it was over 100 degrees in the hospital, water was EVERYWHERE, no contact with the outside world, no plumming, no electricity...come on guys. These were patients that were very near death, very uncomfortable, and had DNR orders. In addition this doc and the handfull of nurses had dozens of other patients that needed supervision. My understanding (perhaps not accurate, but I think so) is that at least 1 of the four patients in question required ventilation by hand. Some had their kidneys failing, some were septic...

In hindsight I think, "Man, how must she feel that she did that?" and I definately don't think I would have done what she is accused of doing, but she made the decision under extreme duress. Don't forget what that city looked and sounded like during/after the flood...armegeddon. This doc saw no end in sight and made what I'm assuming was a thought-out decision. This wasn't done simply because they were uncomfortable, it was done primarily (again I think) because these terminal patients were requiring much of the limited resources (time and otherwise) this handfull of caregivers had to offer, resources they decided would be more beneficial focused on other patients.

Now I understand the argument that she shouldn't have done what she did and all this is above is no excuse. However 2nd degree murder is ludicrous!!! Drunk drivers get prosecuted with manslaughter all the time! Anyway, like I said above, I don't condemn this debate but rather the criminal prosecution and the publicity-mongering the attorney general seems to be engaging in. I think this should be investigated and then any sanctions should be handed down by her licensing boards. You guys are aware that there are docs out there performing surgeries they are wholly unqualified for, eg gastric bypass, and it takes SEVERAL deaths for these docs to even be brought before a review board let alone criminally prosecuted!! And most of even those cases end up with licensure revocation and/or nationwide suspension. They want to throw this woman in jail for risking her life to stay and help these people and then making, at worst, an error in judgement. No way I agree with that.
 

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beefballs said:
Her actions didn't exist in a vacuum, and the environment she made them in has to count for something-
There are a few possible affirmative defenses to murder one can try to raise in cases involving certain extreme circumstances. But you still generally get charged with the crime, and shouldn't take those actions expecting to get away with it because of unusual circumstances. The law took these kinds of decisions out of doctors' hands long before this case. Society creates the rules via the laws and society creates the permitted exceptions. If you don't follow the law you are SOL if you get charged. Not just in this case, but with everything.
 

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AngryBaby said:
I don't think we can overstate the stress this doc and her support staff were under. It sounds like at least 20 or so patients had already died, it was over 100 degrees in the hospital, water was EVERYWHERE, no contact with the outside world, no plumming, no electricity...come on guys. These were patients that were very near death, very uncomfortable, and had DNR orders. In addition this doc and the handfull of nurses had dozens of other patients that needed supervision. My understanding (perhaps not accurate, but I think so) is that at least 1 of the four patients in question required ventilation by hand. Some had their kidneys failing, some were septic...

In hindsight I think, "Man, how must she feel that she did that?" and I definately don't think I would have done what she is accused of doing, but she made the decision under extreme duress. Don't forget what that city looked and sounded like during/after the flood...armegeddon. This doc saw no end in sight and made what I'm assuming was a thought-out decision. This wasn't done simply because they were uncomfortable, it was done primarily (again I think) because these terminal patients were requiring much of the limited resources (time and otherwise) this handfull of caregivers had to offer, resources they decided would be more beneficial focused on other patients.

Now I understand the argument that she shouldn't have done what she did and all this is above is no excuse. However 2nd degree murder is ludicrous!!! Drunk drivers get prosecuted with manslaughter all the time! Anyway, like I said above, I don't condemn this debate but rather the criminal prosecution and the publicity-mongering the attorney general seems to be engaging in. I think this should be investigated and then any sanctions should be handed down by her licensing boards. You guys are aware that there are docs out there performing surgeries they are wholly unqualified for, eg gastric bypass, and it takes SEVERAL deaths for these docs to even be brought before a review board let alone criminally prosecuted!! And most of even those cases end up with licensure revocation and/or nationwide suspension. They want to throw this woman in jail for risking her life to stay and help these people and then making, at worst, an error in judgement. No way I agree with that.
Stress is never a defense to murder. Most murderers could argue they were under a lot of stress. There is a huge difference in the law between patients dying due to lack of resources versus the doctor & staff actually killing them. The allegation is that this doc chose the latter.
 

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Why would you inject a patient with morphine and Versed?
 

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Law2Doc said:
Stress is never a defense to murder. Most murderers could argue they were under a lot of stress. There is a huge difference in the law between patients dying due to lack of resources versus the doctor & staff actually killing them. The allegation is that this doc chose the latter.
What if the doc simply completely or partially avoided these terminal patients because there were other patients that had a better chance for survival? These patients would then presumably die in great discomfort, is that a better result? What about the ER doc seeing multiple critical injuries coming in simultaneously (eg car crash) and having to make a decision regarding which patient to work on, is it OK because the lack of care is passive? The ER doc takes the patient that he/she can save...I believe this is a similar scenario but admittedly much stickier because of the active role in the patients' passing...again 2nd degree murder is ridiculous. Calling this woman a murderer is ridiculous. If you were her and you were sure these patients were going to die or require so much attention they would cause the conditions of other patients (that were more likely to survive) to deteriorate to critical what would you do? Can't blame her for spending time on those that had higher chances of survival. Then she thinks, "OK they're going to die...do I leave them in their beds/gurneys or do I make it as comfortable as possible?"

I'm assuming there is no precedent for this? As an ex-blood-sucking vamp...er...lawyer (j/k ;) ) you'd probably know this or have an easier time looking it up than myself. Perhaps a law should be introduced stating that when a (terminal ?) patient is admitted to a care-center some paperwork should be signed by either the patient or decision-maker regarding sedated or "natural" death in emergencies? Might help avoid this in the future.

I can't believe anybody would charge this woman with murder (not manslaughter, murder )...unbelievable.
 

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AngryBaby said:
Can't blame her for spending time on those that had higher chances of survival. Then she thinks, "OK they're going to die...do I leave them in their beds/gurneys or do I make it as comfortable as possible?"
She's not being blamed for allocating resources the best way she could. Had she simply done that, and these patients died, she would be blameless She is being blamed for allegedly taking that next step, specifically prohibited by law, of injecting patients with something that she knew would kill these patients. You don't get to kill your patients humanely in lieu of being able to treat them, at least not in that state. The law says you can't, and that if you do you are guilty of murder.
 

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Law2Doc said:
She's not being blamed for allocating resources the best way she could. Had she simply done that, and these patients died, she would be blameless She is being blamed for allegedly taking that next step, specifically prohibited by law, of injecting patients with something that she knew would kill these patients. You don't get to kill your patients humanely in lieu of being able to treat them, at least not in that state. The law says you can't, and that if you do you are guilty of murder.
I get that point and I think it'll be the sticking point of the trial (if it goes that far). However I would think probation (how long?) and license revocation should be the stiffest penalty she endure?. LawDoc, do you think when all is said and done she should be put in jail? (Not to put you on the spot, just curious. If you're not sure yet then no need to answer)
 

southerncomfort

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*This is a long one*

First, full disclosure--the Dr. in question is a med classmate of my sister's, and we hold her in very high regard. My 95 year old great aunt and godmother passed away in the same hospital just the month before, when the hospital was preparing for a possible hit from Hurricane Dennis (which went east). My family could easily have been like those of the patients who died during the storm. I thank God that we were spared such horrific conditions. The medical staff then gave my aunt whatever she needed to be a little more comfortable--pain meds, breathing treatments, oxygen. She was made more comfortable by those measures, but we knew that her life was ending.

I am a NOLA native. The following things were all in the local media, though I don't know if they made it nationally. I'm not posting sources, but I'd suggest nola.com (Times-Picayune newspaper) or wwltv.com (CBS affiliate), if you'd like to look things up.

One thing I'd like to point out is that no one knows if these patients died from a "mercy euthanasia", or if these medically fragile patients succumbed to the conditions. Patients (and people in the general public) were dropping like flies in the heat and humidity. Shortly after the storm, rumors of "patients being put down" were coming out; I remember a few in the media were laypeople who "saw" and "heard" tidbits of situations. Dozens of people were dying--in a HOSPITAL! This goes against people's core beliefs, and I believe some people are looking for an explanation and someone to blame, when in reality, it was the post-storm conditions at the root.

Now, for those of you in the more temperate regions of our nation, let me explain what I mean by heat and humidity. If you think the recent heat wave that spread across the country was "hot"--we in Louisiana have those temperatures as a NORMAL summer temp. Humidity? When there is 90%+ humidity, it is truly like a sauna. You will sweat just standing in place.

Why is this important? Because of the stress it puts on the body. Imagine yourself in those conditions for one day; young and healthy, you're miserable. Now imagine a medically fragile individual in those conditions--it's perilous. Now imagine those conditions going on for days.

There was no electricity; think of all the equipment in a hospital that runs off of electricity. Generators that were not flooded ran out of fuel in just a few days.

These were patients who probably could not have lived without the support of a modern hospital. One hundred years ago, they would have died. This storm caused conditions that basically shut down any semblence of modern life, and modern medical care.

A few more facts of what happened during the storm: Tenet owned Memorial (they're selling three of their local hospitals to Ochsner now). Tenet sent a convoy of supplies to their hospitals. Those supplies were confiscated by FEMA (and went to ???). Helicoptors for evacuations were also sidetracked. It took days, in the above conditions, for helicoptor evacuations to begin.

But what about other places in the city? The airport was set up as a field hospital and they went into mass casualty mode. People were triaged and the medically fragile were put in a quiet corner to die. It was all that could people could do with the very little supplies at hand. People were dying at the Convention Center and on the street. There were people who died in their attics from the heat, not from drowning.

As tulane06 stated, this is a political witch hunt. "Someone has to pay", and instead of going after the Corps of Engineers or FEMA, Foti is charging a doctor and two nurses who had no resources left and were doing the best they could in that hellhole.

For those of you in other parts of the country, a disaster like this could easily happen in your city--earthquakes, volcanoes, fire, terrorism. If or when it does, the lesson we have learned here is that YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. You cannot depend on the federal government to help you. In this day and age, they are too cumbersome and political to engage in effective aid of a disaster situation. They couldn't even get supplies into an American city. How hard would it have been to airdrop food, water and medical supplies at the Convention Center, Superdome and hospitals. There was nothing.

Here is a release from LSUHSC School of Medicine, where Dr. Pou is on faculty. This is from wwltv.com--

The following is a statement by Dr. Daniel Nuss, Chair of the LSUHSC Department of Otorhinolaryngology regarding Pou's reassignment.

Dr. Anna Maria Pou is a distinguished ENT surgeon and teacher, who has earned national recognition for her contributions to the field of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Pou was on duty at New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center during the week of hurricane Katrina last year. The city was inundated with floodwaters, the hospital was left without power in 100-degree-plus heat, and the prevailing conditions were absolutely desperate. As most people know, there was no rescue for people left behind until almost a week after the hurricane.

Dr. Pou worked tirelessly for nearly six days helping the seriously ill patients and also the hundreds of people who sought shelter in the hospital. The conditions were unspeakably poor, and in the soaring temperatures with no water or food, many patients (nearly 40 individuals) died, despite great effort to save them. The majority of those patients were elderly people who had been admitted to the hospital's LifeCare unit, a place typically reserved for long-term care and for terminally ill persons. Some of the others who died were frail older people who had been transferred to Memorial from area nursing homes. A few were younger people who succumbed to lesser illnesses that were exacerbated by the extreme state of affairs.

By personal accounts from nurses, doctors, administrators, and support personnel who knew Dr. Pou, and had worked with her closely in the months before Katrina, her work during the crisis was "heroic,² "selfless,² and "distinguished.² With other dedicated doctors and nurses, she worked without sleep and without nourishment, and she declined an early opportunity to evacuate the hospital in order to care for those who still needed help. At great self-sacrifice, she prevented further loss of life and has been credited with saving multiple people from dying.

Apparently there were individuals in the hospital who could not understand why so many people were dying. Allegations were made, egregiously accusing Dr. Pou and the others of giving too much narcotic pain medication, and even using the word "euthanasia.² This attracted national news coverage, which became absurdly sensationalistic. Because of the widespread news coverage, an official investigation was launched.

Dr. Pou was arrested for second degree murder, along with two nurses, who also had impeccable reputations prior to these allegations.

It is my personal expectation that once all the facts are known, Dr. Pou will be recognized as one of several compassionate, dedicated professionals who did the best they could do under desperate circumstances, and that all allegations of misconduct will be shown to be unfounded.
 

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AngryBaby said:
I get that point and I think it'll be the sticking point of the trial (if it goes that far). However I would think probation (how long?) and license revocation should be the stiffest penalty she endure?. LawDoc, do you think when all is said and done she should be put in jail? (Not to put you on the spot, just curious. If you're not sure yet then no need to answer)
The sentencing will be up to the jury, and I suspect her attitude and personality at trial will have some bearing. These patients probably had family members who are upset and in mourning by this doctor's actions, and will probably make compelling witnesses for the prosecution. Most likely one or more of the staff will cut a deal with the prosecution and testify against the doc as well. The doctor will be portrayed as a renegade -- playing god, putting her decisions above that of the law, and some jurors are sure to get annoyed; were I a juror I might too. If she gets put in jail it will be at least partly to set an example and send a message to all other similarly brazen doctors. If convicted, I suspect at a minimum she will lose her license and do some jail time; probation is pretty rare for someone convicted of murder, notwithstanding the circumstances. (Again, this assumes conviction -- she is currently innocent.)
 

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AngryBaby said:
Now I understand the argument that she shouldn't have done what she did and all this is above is no excuse. However 2nd degree murder is ludicrous!!! Drunk drivers get prosecuted with manslaughter all the time! Anyway, like I said above, I don't condemn this debate but rather the criminal prosecution and the publicity-mongering the attorney general seems to be engaging in. I think this should be investigated and then any sanctions should be handed down by her licensing boards. You guys are aware that there are docs out there performing surgeries they are wholly unqualified for, eg gastric bypass, and it takes SEVERAL deaths for these docs to even be brought before a review board let alone criminally prosecuted!! And most of even those cases end up with licensure revocation and/or nationwide suspension. They want to throw this woman in jail for risking her life to stay and help these people and then making, at worst, an error in judgement. No way I agree with that.
Good post, and I agree.
I find it ironic that the only one on the side of the prosecution is the once-lawyer...goes to show the difference in mentality bet lawyers and doctors (yea, sweeping generalization, I know...)

I knew a kid from school who killed a college student while driving drunk after a party. He got vehicular manslaughter, 1 yr in prison, and 15 yrs community service. Yes, he'll always have the death of an innocent person on his conscience, but you can't tell me it's not a slap on the wrist compared to the firing squad this doctor faces.
 
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Law2Doc

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southerncomfort said:
It is my personal expectation that once all the facts are known, Dr. Pou will be recognized as one of several compassionate, dedicated professionals who did the best they could do under desperate circumstances, and that all allegations of misconduct will be shown to be unfounded.
Certainly the facts will determine whether the prosecution will proceed. The fact that an arrest was made though suggests they plan to go forward.
 

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Law2Doc said:
The sentencing will be up to the jury, and I suspect her attitude and personality at trial will have some bearing. These patients probably had family members who are upset and in mourning by this doctor's actions, and will probably make compelling witnesses for the prosecution. Most likely one or more of the staff will cut a deal with the prosecution and testify against the doc as well. The doctor will be portrayed as a renegade -- playing god, putting her decisions above that of the law, and some jurors are sure to get annoyed; were I a juror I might too. If she gets put in jail it will be at least partly to set an example and send a message to all other similarly brazen doctors. If convicted, I suspect at a minimum she will lose her license and do some jail time; probation is pretty rare for someone convicted of murder, notwithstanding the circumstances. (Again, this assumes conviction -- she is currently innocent.)
First of all, great post by SoCo.

Secondly, you actually think this is going to be tried in court?? Wow, I really didn't think it would go that far. I can't believe a jury would convict her of 2nd degree murder, I would think they'd have to "go for" a lesser conviction, but what do I know.

I don't think you're grasping the severity of her circumstances and I understand the debate, as I keep saying, but you sound like you think this is pretty much a cut-and-dry case. True? Unless I'm misinterpreting you (possible) you sound like you feel this is undoubtedly a murder case and what she did was definitely unethical/inexcusable.

EDIT:
I just saw your last post re: going to trial.
 

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homeboy said:
I find it ironic that the only one on the side of the prosecution is the once-lawyer...goes to show the difference in mentality bet lawyers and doctors (yea, sweeping generalization, I know...)
I think that's a fair comment. Lawyers are trained in CYA thinking. You would likely less frequently see a lawyer turned doctor taking actions flagrantly in conflict with state statutes, but a doctor without legal training might be less sensitive to the hole they are digging themselves -- which I think could have happenned here. The doctor may not have considered that what she thought was the "right" or humane thing to do might be so far outside the law that she would be brought up on charges. For those reading this thread, the take home message is to know the law and follow it, even if it seems barbaric. Your livelihood and liberty could be at stake. If you don't like it, take it up with your congressmen, don't rebell.
 

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AngryBaby said:
First of all, great post by SoCo.

Secondly, you actually think this is going to be tried in court?? Wow, I really didn't think it would go that far. I can't believe a jury would convict her of 2nd degree murder, I would think they'd have to "go for" a lesser conviction, but what do I know.
You charge someone with second degree murder and then offer a plea bargain of manslaughter. If she doesn't go for it, she risks a jury conviction for the whole offense.
 

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Law2Doc said:
You charge someone with second degree murder and then offer a plea bargain of manslaughter. If she doesn't go for it, she risks a jury conviction for the whole offense.
Yeah I understand that but I think she's got to fight this all the way if the prosecutor wants to. Sounds, to me, like she has a pretty strong case. Anyway regarding your post above about "not rebelling" and "following the law", an ideal situation would be for her to not do anything and write/call her House Rep or Congressperson...but I think the circumstances made that impossible, agreed? Again, I really think the worst you can accuse her of is poor judgement...and I think even that accusation is debatable.

I think you make an excellent point regarding the difference in a lawyer's approach to this vs. a doc's. But I don't think that makes your POV correct. Some laws need to be amended or thrown out. Again, going through the proper channels would have been ideal but there obviously was no realistic way for her to do that.
 

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Additionally, if a doc's approach sounded like a good idea to him/her because they were uninitiated in the word of the law then can't we assume, with reasonable certainty, that a jury of her peers would have the same approach? If so, then the prosection may have to make the jury think like lawyers...
 

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AngryBaby said:
Anyway regarding your post above about "not rebelling" and "following the law", an ideal situation would be for her to not do anything and write/call her House Rep or Congressperson...but I think the circumstances made that impossible, agreed? Again, I really think the worst you can accuse her of is poor judgement...and I think even that accusation is debatable.
In the circumstances given, she should obey the law, however wrong she thinks it. Then sometime later, when times are less hectic, she should see what she can do to instigate a change in the law. That's our system. Again, she is not being accused of poor judgement, she is being accused of murder -- and so that is really the worst one could accuse her of. And so they are...
 

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In going over the thread, I see different stories about how these patients died. Were they euthanised? Did they die from the elements? If care was withdrawn from these folks, then I believe the doctor was acting correctly within her powers as phsycian (correct me if I'm wrong), especially in the wake of the disaster and to allocate resources to patients who could be helped (a triage situation).

If euthanised, then the doc went too far - she chose when those patients would die, and that is not part of a doc's duty (as Law2Doc said, a violation of social contract). In this case, then the existence and severity of the disaster was incidental.
 

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Law2Doc said:
In the circumstances given, she should obey the law, however wrong she thinks it. Then sometime later, when times are less hectic, she should see what she can do to instigate a change in the law. That's our system. Again, she is not being accused of poor judgement, she is being accused of murder -- and so that is really the worst one could accuse her of. And so they are...
One could argue there was no law in her circumstance. Martial Law had been declared, certainly, but in the absence of "legal" oversight by the military who has the authority? I don't know, I wonder if her team could argue that as the lead of the healthcare team she was in legal control of the hospital. If so, how much leeway (sp?) does that give her under Martial Law?

Anyway I'm surprised by your rather staunch stance in favor of the murder charge, frankly. I think there is ample reason for the jury to either acquit or find her not guilty and don't forget the burden of proof is on the prosecution (obviously you know that...just for anyone else here).

I've gotta eat and get some secondaries done but I'll be back later this afternoon/evening.
 

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Law2Doc said:
For those reading this thread, the take home message is to know the law and follow it, even if it seems barbaric. Your livelihood and liberty could be at stake. If you don't like it, take it up with your congressmen, don't rebell.
Unfortunately, I think this is a very true statement: doctors are often at odds with what their Hippocratic gut tells them because the law (based on possible repurcussions) will dictate which decision path to take.
 

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AngryBaby said:
One could argue there was no law in her circumstance. Martial Law had been declared, certainly, but in the absence of "legal" oversight by the military who has the authority? I don't know, I wonder if her team could argue that as the lead of the healthcare team she was in legal control of the hospital. If so, how much leeway (sp?) does that give her under Martial Law?
Being a physician does not give you any special governing authority. You follow the law. The governor, state and federal authorities and law enforcement, ranking military officers and the like may have additional powers under declaration of martial law. Physicians do not. She overstepped her bounds if she did what was alleged. She had no leeway. Hence the charges.
 

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If the allegations are true:

1. There was no consent, so it was not euthanasia.

2. It wasn't overdosing, it was a mixture of morphine w/ Versed, a central nervous system depressant. This mixture is a lethal combo.

3. It would be murder, not manslaughter. The difference is that manslaughter involves killing of another person without intent of doing harm. Drunk driving is a good example.

I sympathize with mercy killings. I do not sympathize with mercy killings without consent. Until there's a thorough investigation, we won't know.
 

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I do understand that these laws are on the books and may have been broken, and it is true that stress is never an excuse for murder, and finding exceptions to the law is a slippery slope, etc etc. These are all true.

But it still seems profoundly unfair that out of the complete chaos and lawlessness that took hold of the entire region for days, with no end in sight for the people stuck in it, the only criminal charges go against a doctor who spent god knows how many hours in a hellhole of a hospital trying to save who she could while people were dying in every direction for hundreds of miles.

She may have had a error in judgment, perhaps a very bad one, depending on your view, she may have in fact broken the law...But to say that this charge isn't political is ridiculous.

As someone up there said, where are the criminal charges against all the people who allowed this to happen? Throw them in prison with the murderers, not docs trying to do the best they could in the middle of what was basically a war zone ...
 

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Agreed. The rule of law is a fundamental concept in this country. No one is above the law, not even the leaders or (doctors in this case). If you don't like the law, then you should work to get it changed. But simply disagreeing with a law doesn't excuse your from the consequences of it be broken.

I sympathize with the doctor charged here. If they placed what they thought was right above their own possible prison time, then I applaud them as true heros.
 

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jocg27 said:
But to say that this charge isn't political is ridiculous.
How is it a political move? I must be stupid or missing something.

thx
 

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BAM! said:
1. There was no consent, so it was not euthanasia.
From a dictionary point of view the term euthanasia covers both voluntary (with consent) and nonvoluntary forms.
 

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southerncomfort said:
*
It is my personal expectation that once all the facts are known, Dr. Pou will be recognized as one of several compassionate, dedicated professionals who did the best they could do under desperate circumstances, and that all allegations of misconduct will be shown to be unfounded.
Excellent, excellent post. Well done, and I whole heartedly agree and hope along with you.
 
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