Looking through CNN briefly, trying to figure out what’s happening in the Middle East, I saw some more articles on the doctor accused of euthanizing patients in New Orleans.

Just because it has some quotes in her favor, I’ll link to CNN’s conversations with her family. They say she used to give her cellphone number to patients. If true, that shows remarkable dedication and selflessness; as does her choice to remain at the hospital when everyone else was evacuating.

And, the article with reactions from families of the alleged victims. Here we see the media’s ignorance of medical processes and their incorrigible unwillingness to actually research their stories in any unbiased fashion. (GruntDoc makes a good argument that CNN and the rest of the media have a vested interest in these poor women being found guilty, to justify their own yellow journalism during the hurricane.) One of the nurses was seen to inject a 90yrold lady with something, upon which the patient said, “That burns.” Aha! She was poisoning her. Nothing besides poison would burn upon injection, as we all know. <sarcasm /off> Lots of medicines burn. If she was receiving even scheduled, appropriately dosed morphine, that would burn. And CNN quotes this as damning evidence.

And then a headlined subsection, “Patients were stable.” I may not have learned much on my surgery rotation, but I have gathered that elderly patients are often much less stable than they appear to the untrained eye. With most of my elderly patients, I expected that they would have no problems, but they had lots of problems – on a good day, with surgeons under no stress, no shortage of water, electricity, care, etc. And look at the condition of these allegedly stable patients: 89yrold with dementia and bilateral gangrenous legs scheduled for amputation the day the hurricane hit; 380lb paralyzed man. I mean, how can you call an 89yrold patient stable, if she needs to be admitted to the hospital? Bilateral gangrene – and then her daughter is quoted, “I found it strange that she passed away the way she did, and I couldn’t get any information.” I wouldn’t be surprised if that patient came to my favorite hospital here, and died anway – with absolutely no chaos involved. No information? It seems like no one has any really accurate information from that time period. That doesn’t mean anything. I bet the doctors and nurses had a few more important things to do than to keep up with the heavy load of charting.

This really stinks. To do this to a doctor and nurses who were dedicated enough to remain at the hospital – they didn’t have to – and keep taking care of critically ill patients under incredibly handicapping circumstances — I’m at a loss for words here. The only real evidence I’ve seen quoted against them is the autopsy which showed “lethal levels” of morphine. I guess I’m wondering how you can tell what would be fatal to an individual patient and their metabolism; I’m betting it would take a good deal more to kill a 400lb middle-aged guy then a 90yrold lady. It will take a lot more evidence than this to convince me these women did anything wrong.

(And if they did – could some modern ethicist out there explain to me what’s wrong, under the current beliefs in America and Europe – where starving/torturing Terri Schiavo to death is acceptable, and Oregonians are allowed to commit suicide with a doctor’s help, and the Dutch kill live babies – will someone explain what’s so incredibly evil about deciding that these very ill patients were not going to survive the lack of facilities at the hospital, and that it would be better to let them go quickly and comfortably, and use the limited resources for more viable patients? I’m just asking.)

(On a separate line: I checked on my old lady today. She was intubated. I asked how the surgeons managed to get a DNR patient intubated (I figured it wasn’t the old critical care guy who was responsible for that). They had to take her to surgery to debride her leg, and had intubated her there, and hadn’t gotten her off yet, although the nurse expected it to happen today. I’ll have to keep that maneuver in mind; although this hospital has different levels of DNR; some wouldn’t even allow surgery.)

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