New Orleans Doctor, Nurses Charged with Murder A doctor and two nurses were arrested overnight in New Orleans, where they are charged with second-degree murder in connection with patient deaths at a city hospital. The deaths occurred in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina.
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New Orleans Doctor, Nurses Charged with Murder

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New Orleans Doctor, Nurses Charged with Murder

New Orleans Doctor, Nurses Charged with Murder

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel. In New Orleans, a doctor and two nurses have been arrested for allegedly giving lethal injections to four critically ill hospital patients during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The deaths occurred at Memorial Medical Center after that hospital was cut off by floodwaters. At the time, it was uncertain whether the patients could be evacuated. But today, Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti said these were not mercy killings.

Attorney General CHARLES FOTI (Democrat, Louisiana): This is not euthanasia. This is a homicide.

SIEGEL: NPR's Carrie Kahn was in Baton Rouge today as the attorney general spelled out his case, and she joins us now.

Carrie, what do we know about the doctor and the two nurses, and how were these lethal injections supposedly carried out?

CARRIE KAHN reporting:

Well, we learned their names today: Dr. Anna Pou and two nurses, Cheri Landry and Lori Budo. They all three worked for Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans.

Now, the attorney general's investigation has really centered around the seventh floor of Memorial Hospital, and that was leased to a long-term care facility known as LifeCare. The attorney general today stressed that these three employees did not work for LifeCare, yet they took over the patient's care of LifeCare. I just want to also say I've spoken to lawyers for the doctor and one of the nurses. They say they will vigorously fight these charges, adamantly deny any wrongdoing, saying that their clients worked under horrendous conditions, tirelessly on behalf of their patients.

SIEGEL: What can you tell us about the four patients who died and the hospital where the deaths happened?

KAHN: Memorial Hospital is in the center of New Orleans, and like all the hospitals after Katrina, power went out, temperatures soared inside. There was just terrible conditions. There were no generators. There was no air conditioning, no fans. It was just a terrible scene there. We're just learning about four patients, although there are possibly other patients. But these four, they ranged from ages from 59 to 91. And, as I said before, they were on that seventh floor in that long-term care facility. So they were gravely ill patients. And was going to tell you what we've learned about how these lethal injections were given - and I want to read you some from this affidavit that they handed out to us just a few minutes ago.

SIEGEL: Mm-hmm.

KAHN: There's some of the chilling details that they've given us, that there are eyewitness accounts of LifeCare employees, and they say that they observed Dr. Pou and the two nurses drawing something up from vials into syringes. One witness also said Dr. Pou told them that a decision had been made to administer lethal doses. And one more point that I wanted to tell you about - reading straight from the affidavit - was Dr. Pou was witnessed, and the two nurses together were witnessed walking in and out of LifeCare patient rooms. And they gave instructions to these employees to check on all the LifeCare patients and pull the sheets over the heads of those who were now deceased.

SIEGEL: Carrie, do we know if the people who've been charged actually dispute the facts of making the injections or whether they dispute the ethics of what they did. Do you have any idea, yet?

KAHN: Well, as I said, I spoke to the lawyer, and - two lawyers. And they don't want to go tit-for-tat. That's what one of - Dr. Pou's lawyer told me. He didn't want to go tit-for-tat on what the witnesses or saying. But he just adamantly denies that there's any wrongdoing. And he said they were working under horrendous conditions tirelessly for their patients.

SIEGEL: Well, today the Attorney General of Louisiana, Charles Foti, accused the doctor and the two nurses of playing God. And we're going to listen now to a little bit of what he had to say.

Attn. Gen. FOTI: It is not my job or duty to say what the motive was. It is my job and duty to find probable cause that people acted illegally, took steps that committed a homicide and four people died.

SIEGEL: And as you said, Carrie, they were more than four people who died at Memorial. Is it possible that there might be more charges added to these, or more arrests?

KAHN: That's what Charles Foti said today. He stressed that this is an ongoing investigation, and he says he is expecting more victims to be named and more arrests to be made.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Carrie.

KAHN: Your welcome.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Carrie Kahn talking to us from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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