Louisiana Probes Possible Euthanasia Deaths After Hurricane Katrina

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 18, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Louisiana Probes Possible Euthanasia Deaths After Hurricane Katrina Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 18, 2005

Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — The possibility that medical personnel euthanized patients during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has been a source of national controversy. Now, state officials say they will officially look into the matter to determine if any medical staff broke state laws prohibiting the practice.

Some 215 people died at 19 hospitals and nursing homes in an around the New Orleans area following the destructive hurricane.

On Tuesday, the Louisiana Attorney general’s office said it would open an investigation after a doctor at New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center told CNN that some of the 45 patients who died there might have been euthanized to end their suffering when the storm hit on Aug. 29.

The doctor, Bryant King, told CNN last week that he heard discussions among staff at Memorial about taking the lives of some critically ill patients after power went out and conditions deteriorated rapidly at the hospital.

King refused to identify the people involved in the discussions and later said he never heard them talk about euthanasia, only "ending suffering."

Yet the tenor of their discussion led him to believe they were planning to end the lives of patients they deemed beyond hope.

"It appeared they were proceeding with that plan," said Dr. King.

King was a contract physician who had only been at the hospital a few weeks when the storm hit. Officials with Memorial Hospital and another that has been accused of having euthanasia incidents, says their staff worked heroically and they denied that any euthanasia bids took place.