Monday, September 12, 2005

We had to kill our patients

One of the more overused terms over the last two weeks post Katrina has been "gut wrenching". If the story proves accurate I can state without hyperbole, this most definately is.

Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leaving them to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

With gangs of rapists and looters rampaging through wards in the flooded city, senior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive.

In an extraordinary interview with The Mail on Sunday, one New Orleans doctor told how she 'prayed for God to have mercy on her soul' after she ignored every tenet of medical ethics and ended the lives of patients she had earlier fought to save.

Her heart-rending account has been corroborated by a hospital orderly and by local government officials. One emergency official, William 'Forest' McQueen, said: "Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die."

I am not real sure what to think about this. Viscerally it makes me angry. Not really at the medical personel but rather at Hip Hop Nagin who waited untill the last minute to evacuate and then made a less than concerted effort after the decision was made. Ditto with Blanco who's indecision and ineptness gave these doctors little option.

One thing sticks out; Nowhere in this article is the term "terminal" used when referring to the euthenized patients. That fact makes this entire exercise beyond abhorrent.

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