Archives for July 18, 2006

CNN: Doctor, nurses face Katrina murder charges (Updated)

The hunt for killer Docs during Katrina moves forward:

CNN: Doctor, nurses face Katrina murder charges

From Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) — A doctor and two nurses have been charged with second-degree murder — the result of the Louisiana attorney general’s investigation into whether hospital staff euthanized some patients in the days after Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Anna Pou, Lori L. Budo and Cheri Landry were arrested late Monday and charged with four counts of second-degree murder.

The charges stem from the deaths of some patients at New Orleans Memorial Medical Center after Hurricane Katrina hit. Sources told CNN the slayings were not mercy killlings [sic], but instead allegedly were carried out to speed evacuation of the hospital. …

No-one can condone ‘medical euthanasia’ in extreme situations like this. Fatigue and desperation don’t make for necessarily good judgement. I don’t know what happened, or more likely didn’t happen, there. Time will tell.

But, this article gives me some real pause:

Foti has been investigating for months whether hospital and medical staff euthanized some patients. He is expected to outline what he thinks happened to some of the 45 Memorial Hospital patients who were found dead after the August hurricane evacuations.

“We obviously think it’s a very credible … we spent a lot of time, energy and manpower working on this case … so we think it’s a good case,” Foti told CNN in February.

I trust this is just poor phraseology, and doesn’t mean ‘time spent = good case’.

In October, CNN reported exclusively that after deteriorating conditions — with food running low and no electricity — some medical staff openly discussed whether patients should be euthanized. …

Hmm, CNN also reported roving rape-gangs in the Superdome, dead piling-up etc. I don’t know if I’d be really proud of October Exclusive Reporting from New Orleans.

And here’s the part that really has me wondering:

Editor’s Note: CNN, which broke the hospital deaths story, was nominated Tuesday for an Emmy in Outstanding Investigative Journalism: “Death at Memorial Hospital.”

So, if this case goes no-where, and is found to be groundless, will their Emmy nomination be forfeit? The real problem is that now CNN’s got a reason to keep this story going, real or imagined.

Update: after the above was posted, the article was changed, and it doesn’t make the LA AG look any smarter, to wit:

‘Lethal cocktail’

According to the court document, the morphine was paired with midazolam hydrochloride, known by its brand name Versed. Both drugs are central nervous system depressants. Taken together, Foti said, they become “a lethal cocktail that guarantees that you die.”

Uuh, no, they’re not an instant death cocktail when mixed. Alarming people about two medications that are routinely used together in medicine for conscious sedation in order to pump up your case is wrong, and stupid. I have used morphine and versed together several times and nobody died! The devil is in the dose, and the respiratory monitoring and support provided during the procedure.

…”a lethal cocktail that guarantees that you die…” is just idiotic hyperbole.

MedBlogs Grand Rounds 2:43

Welcome to Grand Rounds ChronicBabe style, where it’s all about the ladies. We got a ton of excellent posts, so take some time to really work your way down the list. You won’t be disappointed!

Well, count me disappointed. I’m not a fan of the “write about what I want to talk about, or you’re excluded” Grand Rounds. Prior to this the topic when a host wanted to feature a topic it was prominently featured, but that didn’t exclude all other posts.

Yes, the host gets to pick the format. Inclusion will, IMHO, always be better than exclusion. Enough of the “Themes or Else”.

Bedside manner

I just had a personal experience with a doctor with a relative lack of bedside manner, and it was illuminating.

I took my largest organ (skin) to my dermatologist yesterday, as I had a few new problem areas to be looked at. (This was after about a six week wait for this appointment). My skin doesn’t like sun, or apparently bright lights. I digress.

I’ll tell you now they don’t know I’m a doctor there, and that’s okay with me. I haven’t hidden it, but I don’t announce it to anyone, either. (The only people who routinely find out I’m a doc are my barbers, who are a decidedly chatty bunch).

I waited long enough to read a couple of magazine articles, and in came the Dermatologist (Derm) and his assistant, and a PA student. No-one introduced themselves except Derm, and his intro was a grunted “Huhmm. What’s the problem?” I appreciate directness, so I outlined my little problems, and after a thorough exam, during which very very little was asked or answered, he said “I think we need to take those off”. I wholeheartedly agreed.

After 2 more magazine articles Derm reappears with the entourage, asked me to lie down, and without a word starts to numb one of the spots, the one on my right eyelid. He does it with skill (I’d know) but without warning, and all three (two others, all on the face) were taken care of efficiently, and without warning, narrative, etc. It didn’t hurt more than a 1/10 at worst, and the procedure was a success (I hope).

However, Derm’s lack of any appreciable bedside manner has me reevaluating one of my longest-held beliefs, that people don’t really care if their doctor has a great bedside manner, but only really want a doctor who is very competent and does the job right.

And, painfully, I have to look hard at myself. I am, occasionally, a touch cranky. I try very very hard to not be cranky toward my patients, but I’m not in such denial to say I never act cranky with a patient.

Physician, heal thine own bedside manner. Me first.