Sunday, August 30, 2009

Doctors, Hurricanes, and Morphine

From today's New York Times Magazine, clipped from an article about the alleged "mercy killing" of patient's under critical care at a hospital hit by Hurricane Katrina ...
Hurricane Katrina marooned Memorial Medical Center in Uptown New Orleans. The hurricane knocked out power and running water and sent the temperatures inside above 100 degrees. Still, investigators were surprised at the number of bodies in the makeshift morgue and were stunned when health care workers charged that a well-regarded doctor and two respected nurses had hastened the deaths of some patients by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs. Mortuary workers eventually carried 45 corpses from Memorial, more than from any comparable-size hospital in the drowned city.

Investigators pored over the evidence, and in July 2006, nearly a year after Katrina, Louisiana Department of Justice agents arrested the doctor and the nurses in connection with the deaths of four patients. The physician, Anna Pou, defended herself on national television, saying her role was to “help” patients “through their pain,” a position she maintains today.
It's interesting that this indictment of euthanasia comes from a publication that regularly provides a venue for Peter Singer.
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