State Investigates Alleged "Mercy Killings" At New Orleans Hospital
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 13, 2005
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA--A doctor and a nurse have described conversations they claim took place at New Orleans Memorial Medical Center regarding killing patients who were not thought capable of surviving the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, CNN News reported Thursday.
While neither claimed to witnessing the "mercy killings", Dr. Bryant King, who was working at Memorial at the time, and Fran Butler, a nurse manager, talked openly to CNN about discussions that medical personnel had about euthanizing some critically ill patients.
The discussions reportedly occurred two days after the levies protecting New Orleans were breached. By that point, the flooded hospital was without power and air conditioning, and was running low on supplies and medications. Evacuations were sporadic as the temperature inside the building climbed to 110 degrees.
King told CNN that hospital staff members met to decide what to do about several dozen people who were in critical condition. He said he later saw one physician produce a syringe and tell a patient, "I'm going to give you something to make you feel better."
"I don't know what the physician was going to give them, but we hadn't been given medications like that, to make people feel better, or any sort of palliative care," King said. "We hadn't been doing that up to this point."
Butler said: "My nurses wanted to know what was the plan? Did they say to put people out of their misery? Yes . . . They wanted to know how to get them out of their misery."
The office of Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti is investigating the allegations that mercy killings occurred at Memorial and has requested that autopsies be performed on all 45 bodies taken from the hospital after the storm to determine their cause of death.
The New York Times reported last month that at least one-fifth of those who died in New Orleans during and after Katrina were either patients at hospitals or residents of nursing homes that were not fully evacuated.
"Staff at New Orleans hospital debated euthanizing patients" (CNN)
Other disability stories related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are available on today's Below the Fold Page: