Home > Uncategorized > When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Kill the Weak

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Kill the Weak

Saturday, October 15, 2005, 00:39 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Louisiana’s Attorney General, Charles Foti, is investigating allegations that doctors at a New Orleans hospital discussed euthanizing patients in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As part of the investigation, autopsies will be performed on 34 patients who died after the storm.

Those of us who weren’t affected by the storm can’t imagine how miserable conditions were, nor how desperate physicians and nurses trying to care for the ill and injured must have felt. While the hospital administration insists that nothing of the sort was even discussed, more than one person who was present has said otherwise.

Dr. Bryant King, who was working at Memorial when conditions were at their worst, told CNN that while he did not witness any acts of euthanasia, "most people know something happened that shouldn’t have happened."

[ . . . ]

But King said he is convinced the discussion of euthanasia was more than talk. He said another doctor came to him at 9 a.m. Thursday and recounted a conversation with a hospital administrator and a third doctor who suggested patients be put out of their misery.

King said that the second physician—who opposed mercy killing—told him that "this other [third] doctor said she’d be willing to do it."

About three hours later, King said, the second-floor triage area where he was working was cleared of everyone except patients, a second hospital administrator and two doctors, including the physician who had first raised the question of mercy killing.

King said the administrator asked those who remained if they wanted to join in prayer—something he said had not occurred at the hospital since Katrina ripped through the city.

One of the physicians then produced a handful of syringes, King said.

"I don’t know what’s in the syringes. … The only thing I heard the physician say was, 'I’m going to give you something to make you feel better,'" King said.

"My nurses wanted to know what was the plan? Did they say to put people out of their misery? Yes. … They wanted to know how to get them out of their misery," [nurse manager Fran Butler] said.

Butler also told CNN that a doctor approached her at one point and discussed the subject of putting patients to sleep, and "made the comment to me on how she was totally against it and wouldn’t do it."

But if they had enough of some sort of drug to kill patients—and it takes more to kill than it does to sedate or alleviate pain—why weren’t those drugs used for pain management or palliative care? It is frightening to think that in cases when the most vulnerable among us trust in the able to care for them, the caretakers may have other ideas.

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