Louisiana Subpoenas 73 People in Hurricane Katrina Euthanasia Probe

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 28, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Louisiana Subpoenas 73 People in Hurricane Katrina Euthanasia Probe Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 28, 2005

Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — The Louisiana attorney general has subpoenaed 73 people in connection with its probe into whether patients were euthanized during the harrowing aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Hospital officials have denied that any incidents took place and have praised the heroism and hard work of their staff.

Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti send subpoenas to employees of Memorial Medical Center, which is owned by Tenet Healthcare.

Previously, a doctor and a nurse manager said that three days after Katrina flooded New Orleans, they overhead medical staff having discussions about euthanizing patients they thought might not survive the ordeal.

Following the allegations, Foti’s office asked that autopsies be performed on all 45 of the bodies of the dead patients taken from the hospital after the storm.

According to a UPI report, Tenet says that 11 of the 45 patients had died before the storm and were placed in the morgue. Most of the others, the hospital company said, were too ill to have survived in a hospital without electricity, water and running out of medical supplies.

Tenet is advising medical personnel on how to handle the subpoenas and, in an October 14 memo to them, Tenet assistant general counsel Audrey Andrews tells staff members they have the right to refused to be interviewed and the right to legal counsel before the interview.

According to the UPI report, Andrews also wrote that anyone participating in a subpoena should "provide truthful information in response to questioning."

The doctor who said he overheard the conversations, Bryant King, told CNN about them earlier this month. 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.