QUALITY/PHYSICIANS: Just what we need now, another grandstanding politician on end of life issues

I’ve been having a backchat email with the people from the Tenet Shareholders Committee. They are enjoying the legal  attack on the Louisiana physician who is supposed to have performed a mercy killing or provided ample pain medication at Tenet’s Memorial Hospital a little too much for my taste. Admittedly they are so opposed to Tenet that this one is too easy for them. But I doubt this one has anything to do with Tenet, which frankly didn’t do much to help its patients (HCA was a little more honorable).

But where the hell was the Louisiana or New Orleans AG (or for that matter any other level of government) when desperate physicians, nurses and patients needed help? Absolutely effing nowhere. A humane person wouldn’t leave a dog to slowly die or drown in the 105 degree heat, let alone another human. And it seems to me that in absolutely desperate circumstances, Dr Anna Pou did what she felt was best for those patients.Yet six months later a grandstanding DA gets his jollies off by sending physicians and nurses on trial for homicide.

This is total bullshit. A series of studies in the 1990s showed that physicians routinely ignored DNR orders. I don’t recall any of them being prosecuted, but they probably caused more harm and inflicted way more distress on patients than Dr. Pou would have done under any normal circumstances…..and let us not forget—those were anything but normal circumstances. If I was a patient there suffering with no water, no power,and no hope other than suffering a long agonizing death—I’d have been very grateful for the relief Dr. Pou’s care would have given me in my final hours.

And now we’re going to send her to jail?!


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6 replies »

  1. You were angels for the sick and always will be. People should not suffer anymore than they already do. Thank you for letting the ill leave this earth peacefully. I completely support your humanity with serious sincerity.

  2. I wonder what would have happened in this same case if the patient had been in hospice care? Would there even have been such a charge. I believe not. Again, the system shows how unfair the law is in end of life issues.

  3. July 21, 2006 Open Letter to all health professionals and Mr. Foti, Lousiana Attorney General -whose motives are very unclear….
    Last year, in the very days when desperately ill patients and their doctors were trapped in a total system collapse in New Orleans’ hospitals, you, Mr. Foti, were already preparing a case against the owners of a flooded nursing home where a dozen or so terminal patients with dementia and associated incapacitating diseases of advanced senescence died because there was no possiblilty of rescue in a catastrophic “100 year storm”, where no evacution or rescue was possible, due to total lack of planning and appropriate resources for a catastrophy long predicted.
    Last I heard of you, Mr. Foti, you were charging the owners of that nursing home of murder.The flood waters had hardly receeded.
    Now here you are again, seeking to send heroic medical professionals to jail for life for murder, for essentially providing “comfort care” for patients who could be neither saved, nor who could be treated with modern medical care (due to a total system collapse of everything, including power, water, and basic life supplies), nor evacuated – also due to a total system collapse.
    Mr. Foti you need to be treated with a dose of reality. Let’s strand you for a week or more, in horrible pain, with horrific terminal illenss or injuries untreatable by any available resources,in a basically terminal condition from your underlying ill health….and let you decide whether you want comfort care, or continued suffering for more interminable hours, days or weeks until your inevitable death.
    Everybody caught in hospitals in New Orleans faced a total system collapse. Triage ethics was the only possible way to cope….Mr. Foti BACK OFF!!! Until you “walk a mile in the shoes” of the patients and their caregivers who were caught in New Orleans hospitals, you really have no right to so horribly harrass the HEROS who did stay to try to help. Where were you in those horrible days? Safe and dry, I presume. What did you do to try to help?
    If you are so determined to send someone to jail for life for “murder”, why don’t you focus your efforts on Mr. Bush and his incompetent government who proved so woefully incapable of helping in an extreme disaster, in spite of the fact that they were charged with being ready to help (namely FEMA, etc).
    Comfort care is a very appropriate way to treat the dying. Modern technology stops when the power goes off and the facilities are destroyed by flood and lack of all necessary outside support. Please reconsider your punitive actions. Such actions are totally out of line, considering the triage nature of the situation that honest, caring and heroic clinicians were caught up in. The doctors and nurses whose lives you are trying to ruin stayed to try to help. I ask again, “Where where you?”
    Please cease and desist in your unproductive harrassment of the unfortunate people who had to deal with horrific situations..and focus on creating a climate for dealing non-punitively with catastrophic collapse of our technologic support systems. Considering our global warming, predicted ocean rise, wars, and other mayhem, we need to learn to be much more supportive of the heros who risk their own lives to stay and help others.

  4. My dad is a doc. Around 1986 or so, I had a conversation with him about end-of-life issues when Dr. Kevorkian was in the news. Dad said the term doctors used was “easing them over the edge,” and it had privately been going on a long time. That was 20 years ago.
    What we have here is a prosecutor who is up for re-election in 2008, and he thinks this will help his chances. According to today’s LA Times, that may not be the case. Good.

  5. One thing this case might do, in addition to bankrupting the defendants, is tell the inside story of the living hell in that hospital, and the total lack of any help from outside by our “leaders”. The DA might have this come back in his face and the faces of LA and DC officials.

  6. I agree with you Matthew, this is an offensive abuse of prosecutorial power. I suspect this move will backfire spectacularly.
    The real issue that the media may be missing out on here, is that the practice of physicians “quietly helping along” patients may be far more common than the public may realize.
    I’ve heard a lot of stories about this …
    There’s little doubt that Pou and the nurses involved gave patients lethal injections. The bigger question may be, is the kind of case that can win in the Supreme Court?
    Personally, I think it may be. I think Dr. Pou is going to go down in history. And not as a serial killer. When somebody sets up a defense fund for her I’m personally going to make a contribution …