By John-Henry Westen
NEW ORLEANS, February 22, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Just after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans rumors circulated that at least one hospital had euthanized patients during the mayhem. LifeSiteNews.com reported in September 2005, that an unnamed doctor admitted to a UK newspaper that such activities had taken place at Memorial Medical Center (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/sep/05091205.html ). In October another doctor at the hospital confirmed in a CNN interview that he suspected such activities and admitted he left the hospital saying he would rather abandon patients than actively kill them. (see coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/oct/05101303.html ) Later in October hospital workers were subpoenaed for an investigation (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/oct/05102806.html ).
National Public Radio now reports on its access to court documents in the case. In a February 16 report, NPR says it has reviewed secret court documents related to the investigation and not yet released to the public. The documents, says NPR “reveal chilling details about events at Memorial hospital in the chaotic days following the storm, including hospital administrators who saw a doctor filling syringes with painkillers and heard plans to give patients lethal doses. The witnesses also heard staff discussing the agonizing decision to end patients’ lives.”
The allegations revolve around a group of patients left on the seventh floor at Memorial Medical Center. This floor was leased to a different entity, LifeCare Hospitals. According to NPR, the patients on the seventh floor were all DNR patients — they had “do not resuscitate” orders.
The report describes the deplorable conditions in the hospital which was left without power, without sewage removal facilities, and in soaring temperatures with looters attempting to enter the hospital.
Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights organization that leads the disability community’s opposition to legalized assisted suicide, euthanasia and other forms of medical killing, points to a section of the NPR report suggesting the staff wanted to eliminate the patients so they could themselves escape.
The NPR report states, “According to statements given to an investigator in the attorney general’s office, LifeCare’s pharmacy director, the director of physical medicine and an assistant administrator say they were told that the ‘evacuation plan’ for the seventh floor was to not leave any living patients behind, and that ‘a lethal dose would be administered’, according to their statements in court documents.”
Commenting, Not Dead Yet, says, “In other words, the only way the staff could evacuate was if they could report there were no more living patients to take care of. This was not about compassion or mercy. It was about throwing someone else over the side of the lifeboat in order to save themselves.”
Not Dead Yet compared the allegations to what transpired at a New Orleans nursing home where 34 residents who were abandoned by staff drowned. “Death by drowning is easy to prove and so the owners of the nursing home are charged with 34 counts of negligent homicide,” said Not Dead Yet. “It’s unclear what will happen in the case of LifeCare medical staff. It’s hard to prove morphine medication overdoses in badly decomposed bodies.”
The group admits the hospital staff “must have been exhausted and scared”, but it says, “that doesn’t make the alleged killings merciful” as some reports have suggested.
Listen to the full NPR report: