Health Law

Nurses Testify in Katrina Hospital Deaths

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Several nurses are reportedly soon to testify before a grand jury, two of them under immunity grants, in an ongoing criminal investigation of the deaths of at least four hospitalized patients in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Health care workers at Memorial Medical Center, including at least one doctor, are accused of having euthanized as many as nine patients, as staff attempted, under horrendous conditions, to care for and evacuate patients during the storm and subsequent flooding that knocked out electric service and air conditioning. Anna Pou, a doctor, and nurses Cheri Landry and Lori Budo were charged with second-degree murder in July 2006, and it is these two nurses who, sources say, will soon testify under immunity grants, reports CNN.

The three have denied the charges, and their lawyers say they acted heroically by staying to treat patients at Memorial Medical Center as others evacuated the storm-stricken city.

Meanwhile, in a civil matter that apparently is not being pursued by the grand jury, a New Orleans lawyer is filing suit to try “to find the murderer” of his 90-year-old mother, who died of a morphine overdose in a long-term care facility within the medical center in the aftermath of the hurricane. Craig Nelson contends, CNN reports, that “his mother was killed to hasten the medical staff’s evacuation of the flooded hospital.”

The administrator of the long-term care unit declined to be interviewed by CNN, but in a written statement praised its employees for acting heroically under the circumstances.

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