Dr. Anna Pou: Guilty? Or Innocent?

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DR. ANNA POU - GUILTY? OR INNOCENT?


OFFICIAL POU POSITION:
"The physicians and staff responsible for the care of patients, many of whom were gravely ill, faced loss of generator power, the absence of routine medical equipment to sustain life, lack of water and sanitation facilities, extreme heat, in excess of 100 degrees, all occurring in an environment of deteriorating security, apparent social unrest, and the absence of governmental authority. Dr. Pou and other medical personnel at Memorial Hospital worked tirelessly for five days to save and evacuate patients, none of whom were abandoned. We feel confident that the facts will reveal heroic efforts by the physicians and the staff in a desperate situation."
Rick Simmons, Dr. Pou's attorney, in a statement to CNN on behalf of client.


IN SUMMATION:

We have looked at the September 2005 events surrounding Hurricane Katina at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans at some length. We had a mock trial of the participants, and then we had a vote: 20 students thought Anna Pou was "guilty" of murder, and 12 thought she was "innocent." Cohort 4 had spoken. But what did they say exactly?

Now is the time for you to explain individually and at length your thinking on the issue. Is Pou guilty of violating the Hippocratic Oath and euthanizing patients during the crisis at Memorial Hospital following Hurricane Katrina? Or was she perhaps technically guilty, but with extenuating circumstances making it understandable? Do you hesitate to judge anyone in such a crisis? Or do you think she is innocent of the crimes some accuse her of? Explain at length your conclusions.

Please explain your thinking on this issue and post your response by Friday morning November 21, 2009 at 8:00 a.m. Good luck!

26 Comments

While Dr. Anna Pou did take part in euthanizing at least nine people, I believe the [real] court was just in not indicting her. Besides the fact that bodies decomposing in 90 degree Fahrenheit weather are cause for reasonable doubt making the cause of deaths for these bodies undetermined, the fact that this was a disaster is the most striking evidence that prevented her from receiving criminal charges. When doctors actively euthanize patients in normal circumstances, it is a cause for alarm because it is illegal in 48 states. But in the midst of a disaster, where the circumstances are far from normal and life threatening Doctor Anna Pou made the right call in deciding to end certain patients’ lives that could not be evacuated and were already in a horrendous state.

While many may argue that she should have found another way to deal with the “category 3” patients, the patients that were Do Not Resuscitate or in a very bad physical state, she had other patients who had a higher chance of living. While it would have been amazing if she could have saved everyone, that would have been far from realistic. Patients’ in categories “1” and “2” lives would have been jeopardized. She did the best she could and I’m sorry if the families of the lost patients feel they need someone to blame. However what they need to blame, is not a person, but a category “5” hurricane that ravaged and flooded the streets of New Orleans.

Dr. Anna Pou cared deeply for her patients, and what she had to do was by no means an easy task. Pou and her colleagues were in a post-disaster hospital, with no electricity and no backup generators because the generators had ceased to function. Decisions had to be made, and unfortunately some people had to take charge and take responsibility. Dr. Anna Pou is a compassionate and caring individual who did not want her patients to suffer if her colleagues and she had to be evacuated. It was a decision far from idealness, but disasters are not ideal; death is not ideal, but unfortunately the two go hand and hand even in places designed to prolong death in horrendous conditions such as Memorial Hospital in New Orleans. I personally believe that Pou had been forced to actively euthanize some patients, but not on her own accord, but on hurricane Katrina’s.

While Dr. Anna Pou did take part in euthanizing at least nine people, I believe the [real] court was just in not indicting her. Besides the fact that bodies decomposing in 90 degree Fahrenheit weather are cause for reasonable doubt making the cause of deaths for these bodies undetermined, the fact that this was a disaster is the most striking evidence that prevented her from receiving criminal charges. When doctors actively euthanize patients in normal circumstances, it is a cause for alarm because it is illegal in 48 states. But in the midst of a disaster, where the circumstances are far from normal and life threatening Doctor Anna Pou made the right call in deciding to end certain patients’ lives that could not be evacuated and were already in a horrendous state.

While many may argue that she should have found another way to deal with the “category 3” patients, the patients that were Do Not Resuscitate or in a very bad physical state, she had other patients who had a higher chance of living. While it would have been amazing if she could have saved everyone, that would have been far from realistic. Patients’ in categories “1” and “2” lives would have been jeopardized. She did the best she could and I’m sorry if the families of the lost patients feel they need someone to blame. However what they need to blame, is not a person, but a category “5” hurricane that ravaged and flooded the streets of New Orleans.

Dr. Anna Pou cared deeply for her patients, and what she had to do was by no means an easy task. Pou and her colleagues were in a post-disaster hospital, with no electricity and no backup generators because the generators had ceased to function. Decisions had to be made, and unfortunately some people had to take charge and take responsibility. Dr. Anna Pou is a compassionate and caring individual who did not want her patients to suffer if her colleagues and she had to be evacuated. It was a decision far from idealistic, but disasters are not ideal; death is not ideal, but unfortunately the two go hand and hand even in places designed to prolong death in horrendous conditions such as Memorial Hospital in New Orleans. I personally believe that Pou had been forced to actively euthanize some patients, but not on her own accord, but on hurricane Katrina’s.

I believe honestly that Anna Pou did euthanize those patients in the confines of Memorial. I honestly believe that things could have been handled better as far as the evacuation of these patients. But above both of those, I believe that none of us can honestly pass judgment on the decisions that Dr. Pou and the other doctors made in the aftermath of Katrina. The crisis situation of isolation is not one that probably any of us are familiar with and thus we cannot say that they did not handle the situation in the best way. I do believe that Pou and the assisting doctors acted with the best intentions in mind and in heart when they helped ease the passing of patients whose lives it would have been difficult to save (by save I mean evacuation). And so, I understand why the New Orleans jury did not indict Pou. Because they understand like I do that we cannot understand what happened in Memorial, and therefore cannot tell Pou what she did wrong.

Anna Pou killed her patients. This is the plain truth.
However, the plain truth is rarely applicable to human beings. Though it may be easy to condemn her or dismiss the trial of Anna Pou, it is not easy to judge her affirmatively.
When I look at the events at memorial, I see a multitude of collective actions by every individual that produced the tragic outcome. Pou is not alone, as many may think, for, recall some doctors and nurses aided her, and some ran away. The coast guard offered assistance, until the point that it was denied.
Perhaps ideally, there should have been a system of inquiry implicated to check the legitimacy or sanity of the individuals who denied the further assistance of the coast guard.
In any case, I see a dynamic system of incompetent and distressed humans performing human errors, in the time of crisis. How can I say, “If I were in this situation I would have had the foresight, emotional stability, and confidence to make effective decisions”?
Yet, I am not a doctor.
Then, I begin to question the training of the medical community. Should not there be a system in place for a scenario where a doctor like Anna Pou is confronted with beyond life of death decisions? After all, the choices at memorial certainly affected the family of Everett.
Then, at the root of scenario, I question myself for supporting a medical community that runs from their post, or orders large amounts of morphine to ease suffering.
We are to blame.
Anna Pou is guilty under the law, but the law is not applicable to many human situations.
I will not pass judgment on her as a person, I can simply say that I will reform the way I approach medicine as an individual.

Dr Anna Pou violated the Hippocratic Oath, but with the circumstances of almost no power and the staffing ran off of one hour of sleep, her actions are understood. Dr. Pou violated the Hippocratic Oath, by harming the patients under her care. With the circumstance of running out of the back-u power, I would have been scared for the patients that had a ninety percent chance of living, and knowing that they have better chance of living over the Life Care patients. Even though most of them had wanted to die anyways, I could have never done it. I would never take someones life in a crisis.
For the staff running off of one hour of sleep in a three day period, I would not have trusted their full intellect to be there. I would have not known what to do for the patients. Also I could have not been thinking clearly, I would be going crazy.
I do give her props for trying to do the best for her patients. With the lack of sleep and the power basically out I would worry about the patients suffering. She tried her best under the circumstances.

 From the evidence provided it seems clear that Dr. Pou had the intention to kill all the nine patients. Yes the bodies were there for ten days in extreme heat, but bodies never should have that much morphine in them even if on pain meds. In the state of Louisiana it is illegal to actively euthanize and Pou did that. I find the most disturbing part that she did not get consent from the patients. Yes this was a worse case scenario but that never gives a doctor the right to treat patients without there consent. I find Pou guilt of second degree murder on all cases, and she should be sentenced to the full extent of the law.
The main idea behind the hippocratic oath is to do no harm. Killing is harm. Yes leaving the patients would of been abandonment but killing is still wrong. No where in the oath does it say it doesn't apply in emergincies. In my mind that's when I counts the most! If she had the consent of the patients I would find what she did more exeptipal.  I do not belive for a second that there was no way to not get informed consent. People can make desions and even if confused and scared they can say yes or no. She just didn't take the time. U have to trust people to their autonmy.
Yes this was a extreme case but in no way excuses what she did. I know it is wrong to judge someone in this case but killing is wrong. I think she is a murderer and should of gone to jail.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans in August of 2005, many lives were changed for the worst. Not only were homes destroyed taking with them generations of memories and cherished family treasures, but families were torn apart without any form of communication. Among the local businesses that were destroyed, Memorial Hospital was also hit hard by the hurricane. Memorial was situated near the cities French Quarter and three feet below sea level. The patients and doctors inside were stuck. The power was a constant worry for those who were working during the time that Katrina hit. All communication lines were cut; there was literally no way to get in contact with the world outside of the hospital walls. Because of this, we will never truly know what happed inside of Memorial Hospital. All we know for sure is that it was chaotic inside, and decisions were made that would have never been made outside of these circumstances.
Inside Memorial, 41 people died. When autopsied, 8 patients were reported to have a lethal amount of Morphine and another sedative drug in their brain, liver and muscle tissue. It is reported that Dr. Pou told the nursing staff to give certain patients that she didn’t think would make it through the evacuation the lethal amounts of drugs. Among these patients was Emmett Everett, an overweight African American man who was partially paralyzed. Dr. Anna Pou gave the instruction to give Morphine but 1 dose didn’t kill the large man. Another dose was given and when he still didn’t die, a towel was placed over his head and he suffocated to death. The other patients that died were either overweight also or they were elderly. It seems absolutely ludicrous that a doctor, someone who is supposed to save lives, would knowingly murder multiple people. Although in no way do I condone murder, I think Anna Pou’s actions are somewhat excusable. You are not taught what actions to take in such unimaginable circumstances in Med School. The severity of the situation was any than but desirable and the doctors, as well as nurses were working on barley any sleep. Again, murder is wrong but I think that not charging Ana Pou was the best route to take. There seemed to be an acceptance among the other doctors about euthanizing the patients. And to blame in all on Dr. Pou is not fair nor is it right. There is no real way to try a doctor on their actions when there are no standard procedures in place. Dr. Pou did what she thought was best for the patients that she cared deeply about. And I do not think that she should be punished for acting on her best judgment.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans in August of 2005, many lives were changed for the worst. Not only were homes destroyed taking with them generations of memories and cherished family treasures, but families were torn apart without any form of communication. Among the local businesses that were destroyed, Memorial Hospital was also hit hard by the hurricane. Memorial was situated near the cities French Quarter and three feet below sea level. The patients and doctors inside were stuck. The power was a constant worry for those who were working during the time that Katrina hit. All communication lines were cut; there was literally no way to get in contact with the world outside of the hospital walls. Because of this, we will never truly know what happed inside of Memorial Hospital. All we know for sure is that it was chaotic inside, and decisions were made that would have never been made outside of these circumstances.
Inside Memorial, 41 people died. When autopsied, 8 patients were reported to have a lethal amount of Morphine and another sedative drug in their brain, liver and muscle tissue. It is reported that Dr. Pou told the nursing staff to give certain patients that she didn’t think would make it through the evacuation the lethal amounts of drugs. Among these patients was Emmett Everett, an overweight African American man who was partially paralyzed. Dr. Anna Pou gave the instruction to give Morphine but 1 dose didn’t kill the large man. Another dose was given and when he still didn’t die, a towel was placed over his head and he suffocated to death. The other patients that died were either overweight also or they were elderly. It seems absolutely ludicrous that a doctor, someone who is supposed to save lives, would knowingly murder multiple people. Although in no way do I condone murder, I think Anna Pou’s actions are somewhat excusable. You are not taught what actions to take in such unimaginable circumstances in Med School. The severity of the situation was any than but desirable and the doctors, as well as nurses were working on barley any sleep. Again, murder is wrong but I think that not charging Ana Pou was the best route to take. There seemed to be an acceptance among the other doctors about euthanizing the patients. And to blame in all on Dr. Pou is not fair nor is it right. There is no real way to try a doctor on their actions when there are no standard procedures in place. Dr. Pou did what she thought was best for the patients that she cared deeply about. And I do not think that she should be punished for acting on her best judgment.

In a sort of half-hazy fashion, I where Dr. Anna Pou could have seen euthanizing some of the patients at the eight-story Memorial Hospital in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit. There were eight floors at the hospital, all of which were solely accessible via stairwell since the hurricane had knocked out the power, and many of the very critical patients that would be the ones who needed the most assistance to get down to the evacuation level were on the more upper floors. After a few days with little to no sleep, constant stress from the hurricane and being under staffed, most of the staff of nurses and doctors had none of strength that it would take to move several patients down the eight flights of stairs. This is where my ability to see where Pou made the decision to start killing of her patients ends. Had the patients been those close to deaths door anyway, I could see more so of where she was coming from. But considering there were patients who were awake the morning of, feeding themselves breakfast and asking to not be forgotten, this was not the case for everyone. This is where I feel Dr. Pou did commit the crime of murder. The patient, Emmett Evert, was wake and conscious the morning of the evacuations, and had even been joking with nurses. And yet later on that afternoon, nurses came and gave him something to make him ‘more comfortable.’ They gave Evert a lethal dosage of drugs that led to his death. Pou could have simply just waited for the National Guard; with I’m sure, enough men to be able to carry all of the patients who were ready to be evacuated down. And I do not know why she did not think of it. I don’t think Pou was acting out of hurry, trying to just get rid of people so she could leave. In chaotic times, people aren’t always thinking as rationally as they would be in normal situations.

Hurricane Katrina painted and awful picture for the citizens living in New Orleans, and truly hit home for the rest of America. Nothing of such disorderly disaster had really hit the nation before August 23th, 2005, so the reaction and shock of it all was unimaginable. The after math of Katrina was catastrophic on so many levels considering the large multitude of homes, property, and tragic lives lost amongst the storm. Families were torn apart, life savings and personal possessions drifted away with the drain water, and levies that were in place to save lives are what ironically drown them instead. One would think a hospital would have the where withal and sophisticated conduct to keep it together, but it was ultimately the opposite that happened. Several lives were lost, and when further investigated, we found out some were taken prematurely. Fourty-one decaying bodies were found within the flooded facility. Of that, an astonishing 9 deaths were drawn back to one woman in particular named Dr. Anna Pou, the chief physician who gave orders throughout the disaster period. When investigators sifted through the evidence nearly a year after Katrina, the Louisiana Department of Justice Agents arrested the Mrs. Pou and the nurses in connection with these deaths - and in my opinion, rightfully so.
In the words of Mrs. Everett, a widow who lost her husband amongst the mess at Memorial hospital, “Who gave them the right to play god?” There is no doubt Anna Pou and her team of supporting health care providers, were overworked. I will not belittle what heroic tasks were accomplished by several of these physicians, but I believe the mistakes that followed were detrimental in ruining that rep. They were responsible for physically orchestrating the timely evacuation of the 9 floors at memorial hospital, but unfortunately they were also responsible for 9 corpses with soaring doses of morphine and midazolam in their system as well. Under this pressure, we saw people break from hero to murder in just minutes.
As an aspiring health care provider I naturally want to side with the decision of Dr. Pou and agree with her in this ethical dilemma. I want to be able to say what she did was right under such tragic circumstances. But I also cant help but think, what if it was my mom lying up in that hospital bed? What if it were my grandmother, father, or best friend? I wouldn’t feel the same. When being taken under the wing of a hospital, one would expect complete and total care. When the hospital has a philosophy of deploying the full array of modern technology to keep patients alive, one would think they were trustworthy and not necessarily out to euthanize your loved one. The bottom line is that Pou and her accomplices’ hastened death. They took it upon themselves to prematurely take lives. In my book, that’s called murder no matter what the circumstance. They may argue, the patients wouldn’t have made it through the evacuation and they wanted them to die a dignified death. This is understandable, but what about Emmett Everett who continued to breathe after two lethal rounds of morphine? He instead had his face covered with a towel until he stopped breathing. If they truly wanted a dignified death for their patients, Im not too sure smothering Mr. Emmett with blanket was the right way to do so. Also Miss Alice Hutzler who showed no signed of pain and had “resting calmly” written on her chart just prior to the chaos was found with midazolam and morphine throughout her liver, brain and muscle tissue. Neither drug had been prescribed to her until the night of her untimely death. Though I can sympathize with what extreme pressure and disaster Dr. Pou was faced with, she had no right to go around authoritatively deciding who should be saved and who should die. Though she should not be looked at as some heartless cold blooded killer, she should be held accountable for what measures she took at Memorial Hospital on the unfortunate days following Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina was a horrific disaster. Thousands of people lost their homes and belongings and had nowhere else to go. Memorial Hospital eventually lost all of its resources over a period of a few weeks (including the backup generators) which many patients relied on in order to survive. Honestly, I’m on the fence. I have never experienced that big of a natural disaster before; so it is hard to say with full confidence, “She did the right thing” or “What Doctor Pou did was completely unethical”.

I have to look at the situation in a logical sense. You are smack dab in the middle of the biggest natural disaster in the history of all that is divine; Anna Pou is a physician stuck in a hospital with masses of patients who require many medical needs and services from her and other nurses that are on the scene. Some patients are healthy enough to get along on their own; some patients are healthy but still require the assistance of the nurses and doctors every so often; then there are those who are terminally ill and require all the time and energy of all the professionals. Now, if all of these nine patients who were euthanized were terminally ill, with the addition of needing the constant help and care of the doctors and nurses, then truthfully, Doctor Pou was doing what would be best for the patient themselves, what was best for the other patients in the hospital, and for the sake of the doctors and nurses. (Not to sound unsympathetic, but these nine patients were going to pass on eventually, it is just Doctor Death…I mean Doctor Pou…got to them first.)

On the other hand, if these nine patients were perfectly in good shape, not requiring much assistance from the nurses or doctors, or not at all, then that poses a problem. It would show that Doctor Pou euthanized these certain patients to either: help dumb down the work load the doctors and nurses had or they were insignificant to her and decided that it wouldn’t hurt to kill off a few people; thinking others would think that they had died of natural causes. Only Anna Pou will know this answer; and it will either become peace of mind or haunt her for the rest of her career.

All in all, I agree with those who believe that she is guilty. I believe she is guilty because although there were rescue teams coming to help escort patients out of the God Forsaken wasteland, and they did eventually get there, Doctor Anna Pou went ahead and decided to give a few patients something that would help them feel more “comfortable”, when truthfully, if she had decided to be more patient, they could have been safely air lifted out of there. On top of that, when she administered the morphine to the nine who perished, she did so without their consent to do so. I’m sure it must have been utter chaos inside and out of Memorial Hospital; she still did not have the right to do what she had done. From what I understood, those lives could have been saved.

Based on the evidence mentioned in the New York Times article and the way our laws are written, I think that Dr. Pou's actions at Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina made her guilty. According to the article, Dr. Cook remembered demonstrating to Dr. Pou how to inject patients with lethal amounts of morphine, and unnaturally high levels of morphine were found in the bodies that were recovered from Memorial. All the evidence points to Dr. Pou actively euthanizing her patients without their consent, and that is murder, but Dr. Pou herself is not a murderer.


We were not there at Memorial Hospital on that day after Hurricane Katrina and we did not get to see the true situation or be part of Dr. Pou's thought process, so it is difficult for me to pass judgment on her, and even if the evidence does prove her to be guilty, she still does not believe she took part in any wrongdoing. Pou is a doctor and not a criminal, and based on the lack of resources at the hospital, she must have made the decision that she thought was best, and most humane, for her terminally ill patients. I am not trying to defend her decision, but no matter what Dr. Pou decided to do with the Category 3 patients, she would probably have faced criticism after Memorial was evacuated.


If Dr. Pou wanted to, she could have left Memorial after the backup generators failed and placed another doctor in charge of evacuating Memorial's terminally ill patients, but she chose to coordinate the evacuation, and without her many of the patients who did evacuate might not have been able to leave Memorial. I believe she is technically guilty but to punish her for choosing to stay behind and make the difficult decisions that were necessary would would put her at the same level as criminals and murderers who have the worst intentions for their victims, and Dr. Pou believes that she made the best possible choice for the patients who were Category 3.

No one will ever know what truly happened within the walls of Memorial Hospital and it is a story that will remain forever unknown and questioned. It is an unfortunate occurence that sadly happened because of a natural disatster that could not have been stopped. With the knowledge we do have of this story, I believe Anna Pou is guilty of euthanizing her patients. With that said, I do not think that what she did was wrong with the exception of what happened to Emmet Everett. It may seem inhumane to do what Pou did, but is it worse than what would have happened to those patients if they were just left at Memorial? People were going to be left whether or not they were alive or dead, so why make them suffer?

With Everett, I believe that other measures could have been taken to end his life. It was completely wrong to make him suffer for breath like he did witht he towel over his head. The doctors present should have given him more morphine or some other sort of drug to end his life more peacefully. Putting a towel over his head until he “went to sleep” is very immoral and dehumanizing.

Dr. Pou may have gone the wrong way about euthanizing the remaining patients at Memorial, but I think that the actions she took led to a better result than if she would have just left her patients. It may be a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, which says that no doctor shall do harm to their patients, but leaving patients to die is also causing them harm. In the case of Memorial Hospital the correct measures were taken in the worst of circumstances.

Dr. Anna Pou was definitely guilty of murdering patients at Memorial hospital during hurricane Katrina. There is absolutely no way to say other wise. Although she did euthanize multiple patients she should not be charged. There was no training for what to do in the chaotic situation; there were no rules and regulations. Decisions had to be made and Dr. Pou stood up to the challenge and unfortunately in the eyes of many she made the wrong choice. While others fled from their posts, Pou stayed at the hospital still caring for her patients running off of little sleep and under constant pressure. These were definitely bizarre circumstances and the legality should definitely be compromised due to the conditions. It is easy to say what the right thing to do is in a horrific situation like hurricane Katrina when you are looking at the situation from the outside; you don’t have all of the pressure and stress that would cloud your normal logical judgment. She was acting as an angel of mercy, she had no idea how long they were going to be stuck in the hospital and I believe it was in her best intentions to help comfort her patients.

Dr. Anna Pou was definitely guilty of murdering patients at Memorial hospital during hurricane Katrina. There is absolutely no way to say other wise. Although she did euthanize multiple patients she should not be charged. There was no training for what to do in the chaotic situation; there were no rules and regulations. Decisions had to be made and Dr. Pou stood up to the challenge and unfortunately in the eyes of many she made the wrong choice. While others fled from their posts, Pou stayed at the hospital still caring for her patients running off of little sleep and under constant pressure. These were definitely bizarre circumstances and the legality should definitely be compromised due to the conditions. It is easy to say what the right thing to do is in a horrific situation like hurricane Katrina when you are looking at the situation from the outside; you don’t have all of the pressure and stress that would cloud your normal logical judgment. She was acting as an angel of mercy, she had no idea how long they were going to be stuck in the hospital and I believe it was in her best intentions to help comfort her patients.

Dr. Anna Pou, a murderer, a caretaker, all the evidence seems to point to both. Several of her patients had, without a doubt died of a large amount morphine and/or midazolam. This means that she did commit the act of murder, however the circumstances in which she committed these acts is questionable. Also she did care for these patients until their untimely end, and who is not to say that these patients were suffering from massive amounts of pain. That these deaths were entirely justified, that these patients were in immense pain and there is no way that they were going to survive. Either way it does not matter what I feel that fact of the matter is that she was and should have been guilty of the charge of murder.

What Dr. Anna Pou did will always remain unknown. However, the alleged actions are far from acceptable; far from acceptable in normal circumstances. It is obvious that hurricane Katrina created extenuating circumstances (extenuating hardly does them justice), yet what actions are to be condoned as a matter of circumstance? Dr. Pou claims she was only trying to make these patients comfortable, that it was unknown if they could ever be evacuated, and that they did not deserve to suffer the conditions they were experiencing. She continues that they were close to death already, and that their fatalities were the result of circumstance, not mercy killings of convenience. Indeed, coworkers testimony aside (confusion was certainly prevalent), the levels of morphine and midazolam found in the bodies, bodies of patients not on pain control regimens, were way too high to be purely for sedation; especially considering the fact that midazolam is a short acting anesthetic, not a sedative used in pain control. This, combined with witnesses’ testimony and patient records, points towards homicide. Yet, it is out of respect for the judicial system that I would not convict Dr. Pou of 2nd Degree Murder. For the evidence is mostly circumstantial, with no eyewitnesses and coroner’s reports of questionable accuracy (due to timing and environmental factors). As such, while I would definitely say she is guilty of gross negligence, potentially even manslaughter, both mitigated by extenuating circumstances, there are not grounds, within our legal system, to convict Dr. Pou of murder. Not only is it too easy to be judgmental in a cold, dry courtroom, rather than a dank, flooded hospital, one must have more respect for the process than ideology for the system to continue to work into our children’s future.

Dr. Pou certainly is to be admired for her dedication to the hospital in staying there to look after patients during a disaster and under horrific circumstances. She showed the traits of a truly devoted physician when she remained at memorial and made impossible decisions regarding the life and death of patients. However, it seems to me that she made the wrong decision in certain cases, committing euthanasia on D.N.R. patients like Emmett Everett who might have lived had he been given the chance. It is never the role of a doctor to end the life of a patient who does not wish to die (and not legal even if the patient does agree to it), no matter the circumstances, Hurricane Katrina or no. Dr. Pou may have had the best intentions in the world, but the fact is that what she did was morally repugnant, and just plain wrong.

Particularly in the case of Emmett Everett, a man who was alert and talking just a few hours before he was euthanized. Witnesses recall a pillow being used to stop his breathing when the drugs couldn’t quite accomplish the task. Other witnesses recall Pou walking around with needles in hand, and talk of the morality of euthanasia sweeping the halls of Memorial. Every patient in question was a DNR patient, but being DNR does not mean that the patient wishes to be actively killed, and morphine certainly did not ooze its own way into those bodies. This does not sound like responsible hospital care to me.

There was undoubtedly something suspicious about the goings on at Memorial Hospital during the duration of Katrina, however there is a distinct speck of reasonable doubt, provided by the testimony of the second man who evaluated the decaying corpses, and by the fact that the entire picture of exactly what happened cannot yet be painted as the circumstances under which these events occurred were so far out of the ordinary, along with the testimony about past colleagues about the caring of Dr. Pou. I can see why Dr. Pou was not convicted, and may have made the same call if placed in the position to decide, not because I believe that Pou did not commit the crimes in question, but because of the uncertainty of exactly what happened.

Dr. Pou committed wrongful euthanasia against her patients, I am fairly convinced of that, but does this make her a true murderer? It is said that the hardest of circumstances bring out a persons true colors. Under the menace of Katrina, Pou showed qualities of both a good doctor and a terrible one. As much as I would love to point the finger and call Dr. Pou a cold-blooded murderer as I am not in favor of ending the lives of patients in this way under any circumstances, I recognize that it would be unwise to convict her. While she did commit murder, perhaps her actions cannot quite be placed under the classification of murder the law accused her of.

Did she wrongly kill patients? Yes. Should she be convicted of murder? Perhaps not.

What Dr. Pou did at Memorial Hospital after Hurricane Katrina was clearly a violation of the Hippocratic Oath and against the law. However, I do not believe she was guilty. The conditions after Katrina created an environment of chaos. Machines failed, staff walked out, everyone was exhausted, and patients were in terrible suffering. Dr. Pou cannot be blamed for doing her job in this situation. She at least stayed in the hospital and cared for her patients. I doubt she had any malicious intentions. As a physician, I think she knew what she was doing was wrong, but what else could she have done. The patients she injected with morphine were diagnosed to die, with the exception of Mr. Everett. It is not like staff could have sat and watched those patients slowly die as their life support systems shut off. There was not enough time to perform normal actions. She did the best she could do to help out the patients. Nobody could have done any better than she could have.

Unless Dr. Pou or one of the two nurses confesses, the true outcome will never be certain. What much of the painting on the wall is pointing to is that euthanasia did occur. Because of the uncharacteristic death of all the victims in a 3 ½ hour period, and the unnaturally high levels of morphine and midozalam it seems to be almost conclusively proving Pou is guilty.

That said, I would not prosecute in real life. I feel that Pou is not a hardened criminal waiting to strike again; she is just a doctor trying to do the most good to the most amounts of people. She was put into a terrible position with no good options; she did the best she could do. I do not feel that she should be held responsible for their deaths. Add them to the tally killed by the hurricane not Dr. Pou.

Dr. Anna Pou is a murderer. Though she believed actively euthanizing patients was the best thing to do during the time of crisis, she made decisions for countless people and families. I do not believe anyone has the right to make a life or death call for someone else, especially since Anna Pou was not related to any of the patients and some of the patients were still coherent. Anna Pou in the least, could have explained the problem to the patients and asked them if they would rather live and stay at the hospital with no one to take care of them, or die by euthanasia. There were many rescuers who said if they had known that people were still in the hospital they would have gone in and saved them, and not informing rescuers that LifeCare patients were still in the hospital is another crime all together. By trying to euthanize Mr. Everett, and him still living, makes me believe it was a sign from God he was not suppose to die. God has a plan for death for everyone, and Mr. Everett was breathing even after lethal doses of morphine were given to him. Did no one think twice that killing him was the wrong thing to do once this occurred? I know that during this time of crisis, there was no authority to tell these doctors what they were doing was wrong, but why did no one step up to the plate? Why did people stand by and enable these doctors to kill off patients? I know for a fact, that even if I believed Anna Pou, that some sort of authority said LifeCare doctors had to leave there LifeCare patients that I would not. I would see to it that all my patients were rescued before ever leaving the building, no matter what the circumstances were. Everyone in the hospital is accountable for the euthanizing of the LifeCare patients, for not knowing what was happening in different parts of the building, or for knowing what was happening to the patients and standing by to let it happen. DNR does not mean do not rescue! And no one should have the power to say who is more important that someone else, or who should die in a time of crisis.

Dr. Anna Pou is a murderer. Though she believed actively euthanizing patients was the best thing to do during the time of crisis, she made decisions for countless people and families. I do not believe anyone has the right to make a life or death call for someone else, especially since Anna Pou was not related to any of the patients and some of the patients were still coherent. Anna Pou in the least, could have explained the problem to the patients and asked them if they would rather live and stay at the hospital with no one to take care of them, or die by euthanasia. There were many rescuers who said if they had known that people were still in the hospital they would have gone in and saved them, and not informing rescuers that LifeCare patients were still in the hospital is another crime all together. By trying to euthanize Mr. Everett, and him still living, makes me believe it was a sign from God he was not suppose to die. God has a plan for death for everyone, and Mr. Everett was breathing even after lethal doses of morphine were given to him. Did no one think twice that killing him was the wrong thing to do once this occurred? I know that during this time of crisis, there was no authority to tell these doctors what they were doing was wrong, but why did no one step up to the plate? Why did people stand by and enable these doctors to kill off patients? I know for a fact, that even if I believed Anna Pou, that some sort of authority said LifeCare doctors had to leave there LifeCare patients that I would not. I would see to it that all my patients were rescued before ever leaving the building, no matter what the circumstances were. Everyone in the hospital is accountable for the euthanizing of the LifeCare patients, for not knowing what was happening in different parts of the building, or for knowing what was happening to the patients and standing by to let it happen. DNR does not mean do not rescue! And no one should have the power to say who is more important that someone else, or who should die in a time of crisis.

I think that it is pretty obvious that she did kill the patients, but at the same time I really don’t think she should be convicted. Hurricane Katrina was much worse that it could have been because so many people failed at their duties. The government failed to repair levees before the hurricane came, FEMA lagged in it’s response, Bush was off eating cake with McCain and hundreds of policemen deserted there posts. It seems absolutely hypocritical for any of these parties to come back now and punish her for staying at her post and doing the best she could to help those under her care. This really seems like an attempt to draw attention away from the government after its series giant blunders. She made her decisions based on what she would want done to her, which is the best anyone could have done in that situation. Everyone can criticize her all they want and talk about what they would have done in the situation, but there is no way anyone could understand the stresses and pressures she was under. Nobody should be punished for doing there best in such an extreme circumstance.

Dr. Pou clearly euthanized her patients and is therefore guilty, reguardless of the conditions due to the natural disaster. She was proven by many witnesses to be going around "comforting" patients by giving them high doses of morphine or ordering the giving of high doses of morphine. Nine bodies at memorial hospital that were found all were reported that she had euthanized them. These same nine bodies were all confirmed by the toxicologist to have died from an overdose in morphine. These people were clearly euthanized or murdered by Dr. Pou. She decided after falling apart under pressure to kill her patients she decided the value of their lives. She had no right to do that, the law applies to everyone and she is clearly guilty and charges should have been pressed on her regaurdless of the crisis of the severe natural disaster that sparked these events.

In my eyes, it is quite clear that Dr. Anna Pou euthanized the patients under her care during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Although the circumstances were atypical and resources were limited, she didn't consult the patients about what their wishes would have been. Maybe some of them would have let her proceed with her euthanizations, others would have wanted to put forth the fight. It wasn't right for her to step in and make the decisions for patients who were perfectly capable of doing so themselves--ultimately lying to them and telling them that she was trying to help them relax when she actually was giving them lethal injections. The families probably feel very violated that she, as well as the nurses that aided her, took matters into their own hands. There is no doubt in my mind that what Dr. Pou did was wrong and murder. Although there have been no professions by Pou or her nursing team, it seems that there is reasonable enough evidence against them to support the guilty verdict.

Hurricane Katrina was a major natural disaster that hurt hundreds and left thousands more homeless. First off I want to state that my heart goes out to those involved with the hurricane. Now the matter at hand is my personal judgment on the case of Dr. Pou and the nurses at Memorial hospital performing euthanasia on patients that did not require it nor ask for it. My judgment is that Dr. Pou is Guilty! She and her nurses were in direct violation of moral and ethical laws. The people that the euthanized were of critical condition but still required the same care that was given to the patients that could get up and walk out of there. So Dr. Pou was wrong and should pay the consequences of her actions like any other American in our county and tried for least 8 counts of 2nd degree murder. She was wrong and now 9 people did not come out of there alive because of her so in this she is guilty. But due to the circumstance that she and the others were put under she should not be guilty because it was not something she could ever train for or we could ever reenact.

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This page contains a single entry by Mr. Geib published on November 16, 2009 11:38 AM.

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