Hard Choices At New Orleans Hospital After Katrina : Shots - Health News Question still linger about the deaths of some patients at New Orleans hospital four years ago.
NPR logo Hard Choices At New Orleans Hospital After Katrina

Hard Choices At New Orleans Hospital After Katrina

Four years after Hurricane Katrina unleashed furious flooding on New Orleans, we get an in-depth reconstruction of the fateful decisions made at a hospital cut off during the storm's aftermath.

With power out and rescuers slow in coming, doctors and nurses at Memorial Medical Center struggled to care for patients, many of them on ventilators. Forty-five patients died. Questions remain about the responsibility health-care workers had in the deaths of some patients who received injections of morphine and sedatives.

Did cancer surgeon Anna Maria Pou go too far, hastening the death of four patients, or was she seeking to relieve their suffering? In 2007, a grand jury declined to indict her and two nurses on murder charges brought by a local prosecutor.

Pro Publica reporter Sheri Fink, a physician, explores the controversial events in a piece being published in Sunday's New York Times Magazine and available online now. In the video below, she talks about why the story still matters.

Pou, still the subject of civil lawsuits, has campaigned for better training of health-care workers to cope with emergencies and shield laws to protect them from litigation afterward.

Responding last year to an account in the New England Journal of Medicine, Pou wrote, that despite being cleared of criminal charges "journalists continue to sensationalize the events that occurred at Memorial Medical Hospital instead of looking at the bigger picture."