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Sara at home
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Doctors, nurses charged in Katrina deaths

quote:
Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti said even with the horrendous conditions in the flooded city, where thousands were stranded without food, water and basic necessities, there was no excuse for the deaths.
ETA: Another article which includes interviews with medical ethicists

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Morgaine La Raq Star
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I really have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it upsets me that these patients were more than likely put to death, no matter how humane. OTOH, I was not there. Everything I've heard has said that conditions were utterly horrible. I have a couple of family members who are older & in frail health. I think that given a choice between days of needs not being met, possible pain & suffering & a controlled dose of morphine that was maybe a little too big, I'd take the morphine.
But, then I feel guilty for thinking I'd take the morphine. Because whether they were 25 or 95, they deserved every second they were supppoe to have. But is a life in those conditions, especially when you are not in good health, really worth it? But was it up to the nurses & drs to decide that?

I just don't know. When I first read this I thought 'There but for the grace of God go I.' I just can't imagine.

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Lainie
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Amen, Morgaine. I wouldn't want to be put in the position of judging the doctor and nurses in this case.

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Four Kitties
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quote:
Originally posted by Morgaine La Raq Star:
I think that given a choice between days of needs not being met, possible pain & suffering & a controlled dose of morphine that was maybe a little too big, I'd take the morphine.

quote:
But was it up to the nurses & drs to decide that?
I don't have a problem with folks who are suffering but who are of sound mind requesting euthanasia. I don't have a problem with anyone refusing life-saving or -perpetuating treatment, if it's their choice. My uncle is in hospice right now, refusing further treatment for his kidney disease and congestive heart failure. He has hours left, maybe three or four days. I don't like it, because I'm selfish and I don't want him to die, but I respect it. His choice.

But these folks weren't given a choice as far as we know -- the medical personnel decided for them. That's murder, not euthanasia.

Four Kitties

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Sara at home
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Having just buried a very beloved aunt for whom I was POA, a woman who was 89 years old and only three weeks before her death was in poor enough health that she had to go to a nursing home, I know for a fact that she would have wanted to be euthanized had those conditions developed after she entered the nursing home. She made that decision earlier in her life. I would have not faulted the staff if that's what occurred.

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Morgaine La Raq Star
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Very true 4K. But (please note that I'm doing this as a devils advocate/lets see where the thread can lead kind-of thing. I am honestly completely torn on this issue & have no idea where I stand) those most likely able to make those decisions (family members) were more than likely evacuated or stuck somewhere in N.O., unable to get to the hospital. Infrastructure was broken down & there was no next of kin to say 'OK, let them go'.
And, where do we draw the line? If there is no power, sanitation is failing & who knows what else is going wrong, how much are the ill patients inside the hospital suffering & how much do we allow them to suffer?

If they can't make a choice & the people who in a normal situation would make the choice can't make the choice (because they're not there) then who makes the choice? And if no one makes the choice, then what happens as care & facilities go downhill because of matters out of the control of drs & nurses?

I think they probably did something wrong but I don't know that they're guilty of murder. Hows that for indecisive?

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Rhiandmoi
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I don't have a problem with people that can't be evacuated in a Katrina like situation being given a fatal dose of morphine. I can't imagine that people would rather they be allowed to slowly die of heat and dehydration. I think sometimes the role of a doctor is to allow the soul to escape as painlessly as possible, and to make that decision for someone that can't make it for themselves, and doesn't have any kin around to decide either.

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Sara at home
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They haven't released the names of the ....victims...so all who had a family member die during this time at this hospital are probably thinking their loved one was one of the ones involved. But the fact that there were only four people whose deaths are under question is an indication to me that if death was caused deliberately, it was done only for those who were in the very worse condition.

These people were in the extended care section of the hospital -- the long term care part of the hospital. My feelings after my experience with my aunt in the nursing home she was in -- admittedly the best one in the area -- is that the employees of the hospital knew the patients very well and may likely have cared enough for them that they hated to see them suffering, not knowing when emergency would end. And then they would have to be evacuated.

Another thought: dehydrated, overheated, frightened, stressed......perhaps the dose of morphine was simply too strong for even more weakened bodies.

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Christie
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
But the fact that there were only four people whose deaths are under question is an indication to me that if death was caused deliberately, it was done only for those who were in the very worse condition.

Maybe I mis-read the article but I had the impression that these were the first charges being laid, not necessarily the only ones.

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Christie:
quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
But the fact that there were only four people whose deaths are under question is an indication to me that if death was caused deliberately, it was done only for those who were in the very worse condition.

Maybe I mis-read the article but I had the impression that these were the first charges being laid, not necessarily the only ones.
I didn't think of that but I see what you mean.
quote:
Foti said in a statement more charges could be filed but did not elaborate.
I took that to mean more people could be charged in the same deaths.

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Franny
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This whole thing makes me profoundly sad.

Those poor health care workers elected to stay and help. They were left in deplorable circumstances. I am sure they did the best they could for their patients under the circumstances.

I know that the families of the dead (RIP) want some closure. But I don't see how any investigation helps anyone.

SIGH. I am not really one to pray (not believing in god or anything) but I hope someone is praying for all these people.

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Ana Ng
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I feel like if anyone should be held responsible, it's the people who were in charge of making sure no personnel and patients were put in this position in the first place. I think it's a reasonable assumption that most people don't want to kill anyone. Why would anyone take such drastic action unless they believed it was necessary?

These workers could have evacuated, and didn't.

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Ms Congeniality
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quote:
The best-case scenario, he said, would be if the accused "believed all possibility of maintaining people on technology has come to an end, you're out of power and your battery power is running out and you say, 'I can't let these people suffer.'"

"Under American law, neither scenario would be excusable," Caplan said.

I find it sad that we can euthanize animals so they do not suffer, but it is illegal to euthanize humans in worse conditions.
It would be unbearable to watch a human suffer under the conditions they were exposed to after hurricane Katrina.

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Daniceguy
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I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect we'll be seeing Attorney General Foti running for Governor in the very near future.

Because I have a baaaaaad feeling that's what this is really all about!

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Christie
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quote:
Originally posted by Ms. Congeniality:
quote:
The best-case scenario, he said, would be if the accused "believed all possibility of maintaining people on technology has come to an end, you're out of power and your battery power is running out and you say, 'I can't let these people suffer.'"

"Under American law, neither scenario would be excusable," Caplan said.

I find it sad that we can euthanize animals so they do not suffer, but it is illegal to euthanize humans in worse conditions.
It would be unbearable to watch a human suffer under the conditions they were exposed to after hurricane Katrina.

Doctors, despite what some of them may believe (not necessarily the one charged incidentally) are not god. They don't get to decide when someone should die. Certainly not if the only reason is because *they* don't want to watch someone suffer.

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diehard
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Were these people on resperators before the hurricaine? If so could it also be a possibility that they were suffering because they couldn't be bagged due to lack of help? Not only Hydration and such. I really don't know what I would do in the situation. I worked nursing homes for almost 6 years and the elderly are so frail especially in stressful situations.

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dfresh
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I wonder if this was a triage situation, where the staff was so overwhelmed by the lack of supplies, lack of staff, lack of electricity, etc, that someone/ones made the decision that trying to keep those four alive would result in X number more dying.
I am not sure if that would make a difference, ethically. I am pretty sure that would not make a difference to the DA, but it might well to the jury.

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Sara at home
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Lots more info this morning.
quote:
The alleged slayings occurred Sept. 1, the fourth day of the disaster. By that point, according to eyewitness accounts, hospital personnel had begun ferrying some patients with the help of a small fleet of private rescue boats. But it was difficult to move the sickest of them because the elevators didn't work. Bodies filled the chapel as well as the morgue.

That morning, LifeCare employees approached Susan Mulderick, the incident commander at Memorial, and asked her what the hospital planned to do about evacuating the LifeCare unit's patients. Mulderick said they "were not going to leave any living patients behind." She then told them to find Pou.

In the affidavit, a number of LifeCare employees described Pou's subsequent rounds on the seventh floor, and the help she allegedly received from the nurses.

According to one witness, Pou said "a decision had been made to administer lethal doses" to the nine remaining patients in critical condition on the seventh floor.

Another witness said Pou had determined that their patients would not survive. She also thought they were unconscious. But a LifeCare worker told Pou that one patient, a 380-pound paralyzed man, was "aware, conscious and alive."

A slightly different article by the same writers.

And the Associated Press story which includes a comment which makes me wonder a bit about the comment regarding the political aspirations of the district attorney.
quote:
Pou was arrested and handcuffed at her house late Monday night, said her lawyer, Simmons.

"I told them that she is not a flight risk," he said. "I told them that she would surrender herself. Instead, they chose to arrest her in her scrubs so that they could present her scalp to the media."

The part that I was forgetting in all this is that the medical people who were there had been there for four days, themselves living under extremely stressful and demanding conditions. How much should that consideration should that be given? It's been proven that the conditions alone could contribute to bad judgement or mistakes on the part of the staff which is why some states limit the amount of time doctors can be on duty.

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Gibbie
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Washington Post article.

Many more details in the article including the fact that 14 people were found with traces of a lethal dose of morphine but that there were only strong enough cases for four counts. The doctor who ordered the shots was an Ear Nose and Throat specialist and that she advised three administrators that a decision had been made to administer lethal doses to some patients. I'd say that the administators who were told that should be looked at too. What did they say? Go ahead?

One quote in particular stood out:
quote:
One of the four patients, obese and paralyzed, was nonetheless alert and conscious; another said "that burns" when the dose was given, according to accounts in the affidavit.
Gibbie

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Gibbie:
The doctor who ordered the shots was an Ear Nose and Throat specialist and that she advised three administrators that a decision had been made to administer lethal doses to some patients. I'd say that the administators who were told that should be looked at too. What did they say? Go ahead?

FWIW, the doctor was also a cancer specialist according to the Associated Press.

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Christie
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quote:
Originally posted by Gibbie:


One quote in particular stood out:
quote:
One of the four patients, obese and paralyzed, was nonetheless alert and conscious; another said "that burns" when the dose was given, according to accounts in the affidavit.
Gibbie
If these accounts are accurate then it sounds like murder to me. If they were coherent they should have been able to give consent, assuming that this is what they would have wanted. It is *not* euthanasia otherwise, at least in my opinion.

Whatever good intentions this woman had the bottom line is she still picked out patients to kill. That is horrifying to me.

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nurple
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quote:
Originally posted by Christie:
quote:
Originally posted by Ms. Congeniality:
quote:
The best-case scenario, he said, would be if the accused "believed all possibility of maintaining people on technology has come to an end, you're out of power and your battery power is running out and you say, 'I can't let these people suffer.'"

"Under American law, neither scenario would be excusable," Caplan said.

I find it sad that we can euthanize animals so they do not suffer, but it is illegal to euthanize humans in worse conditions.
It would be unbearable to watch a human suffer under the conditions they were exposed to after hurricane Katrina.

Doctors, despite what some of them may believe (not necessarily the one charged incidentally) are not god. They don't get to decide when someone should die. Certainly not if the only reason is because *they* don't want to watch someone suffer.
True, doctors are not God, but neither are we who decide to humanely euthanize our beloved pets rather than have them suffer. In a way, we are playing God when we do that.

I, like Morgaine, am not sure what I think about this.

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Christie
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quote:
Originally posted by nurple loves Cobras:
True, doctors are not God, but neither are we who decide to humanely euthanize our beloved pets rather than have them suffer. In a way, we are playing God when we do that.

I, like Morgaine, am not sure what I think about this.

There is a huge difference beween putting down a pet and putting down a human being.

Further, even if you want to try to make a case that suffering is suffering regardless of species (fair enough) there is also a big difference between choosing to euthanize someone you love and care about and presumaby know well enough to know that this is a choice they would want you to make. As opposed to going up and down the halls of a hospital choosing which patients get to die - no matter how "good" a reason you may have.

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Christie:
Whatever good intentions this woman had the bottom line is she still picked out patients to kill. That is horrifying to me.

I am horrified that anyone was in a situation where she felt that this was not only necessary, but even an option. There is no reason to even consider that anyone would have been killed without Katrina or with better preparation for an disaster.

Based on what I have read, I am rejecting the acccidental overdose theory.

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DemonWolf
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According to wgat I've heard, the hospital (actually a long-term care facility) was in the process of being evacuated. I do not see any reason why "euthanasia" should have been preferable to attempting to move the patients. Had the patients died en route, at least the attempt to save them was made.
In this case, someone decided that these people were not worth saving and then took stapes to make sure that these patients could not be saved. They did not simply leave them, they did not "make them comfortable." They mixed up a pioson and ended the lives of four people (so far) rather than try to evacuate them.

I am glad that they are being charged. I hope that justce will prevail.

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Sara at home
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The articles I linked discussed a 380 pound patient who, it is implied, was in critical condition on an upper level floor in a building with no electricity, no elevators. Two men had difficulties moving my 110 pound aunt out of her second floor apartment because the litter the ambulance had didn't fit in the elevator. Can you imagine what it would entail to move a 380 pound critically ill person up or down flights of steps in a dark stairwell in 100 degree weather?

Evacuation had started and then stopped but the staff was getting patients ready for evacuation to start again. Unquestionably if patients were just left behind, criminal charges would have been filed whether the patients lived or died....and by that point in the situation, I am sure everyone assumed anyone left behind would die. Should someone have volunteered to stay behind with anyone who couldn't be evacuated? Probably. But I don't think we can put ourselves in the state of fear or panic that the staff must have been feeling after days of no electricity, no food or water except what was on hand and not contaminated, rescue workers coming then not coming.

Really, I think these people need to be judged not by those of us who watched on TV, but those who lived through it. And the ones who did live through it and are now condemning the decison -- did they volunteer to stay behind with those who couldn't be evacuated? Seems that would have been the solution -- provided those people could count on receiving food, water, medical and toilet supplies for as long as they needed to be there.

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Christie
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Christie:
Whatever good intentions this woman had the bottom line is she still picked out patients to kill. That is horrifying to me.

I am horrified that anyone was in a situation where she felt that this was not only necessary, but even an option. There is no reason to even consider that anyone would have been killed without Katrina or with better preparation for an disaster.

Based on what I have read, I am rejecting the acccidental overdose theory.

Good point. It's unfortunate that there are always going to be sacrificial scapegoats. The real fault does not lie with the doctor and the nurses. Despite my feeling that they should not have done what they did -- even worse they should never have been in a position where this would even have been a choice.

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Ms Congeniality
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I hope to see more details regarding the evacuation in the upcoming days. Was there enough room on the transports for all of the patients?
And after 4 days of living in those conditions some of the weaker/dehydrated patients may have been accidentally overdosed.. no, I'm not totally buying that either. The doctor would have known this and not given them a normal dose of morhpine. She would have known to lower the dose.

I just find it sad that someone put themselves in the position to choose whether a person lives or dies. If there was plenty of room for everyone regardless of condition, then she was wrong.

What if, after 4 days under those conditions, she thought some of the weaker patients would have died along the way? Shoudn't some consideration be given if she THOUGHT she was saving them from more suffering? Not that I am saying she was right, I like to play devils advocate too. [Wink]

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Sara at home
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The staff was in the process of moving patients from their rooms to the areas of the building from which they would be evacuated the day the lethal injections were given. The hospital was completely evacuated the next day.

More description of the conditions,
quote:
Vorhoff was not at the hospital when the killings allegedly occurred but said conditions at Memorial resembled a MASH unit during a war, not a hospital surrounded by large oaks and old homes.

The patients were severely ill - suffering from terminal cancer or on life support in many cases. They were surrounded by muddy water with no communication to the outside world for days. The patients even watched people break into a building across the street, Vorhoff said.

"People don't understand the total breakdown of civilization," he said.



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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

Posts: 8317 | From: Reading, PA | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Ms Congeniality
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
The articles I linked discussed a 380 pound patient who, it is implied, was in critical condition on an upper level floor in a building with no electricity, no elevators. Two men had difficulties moving my 110 pound aunt out of her second floor apartment because the litter the ambulance had didn't fit in the elevator. Can you imagine what it would entail to move a 380 pound critically ill person down flights in a dark stairwell in 100 degree weather?

Evacuation had started and then stopped but the staff was getting patients ready for evacuation to start again. Unquestionably if patients were just left behind, criminal charges would have been filed whether the patients lived or died....and by that point in the situation, I am sure everyone assumed anyone left behind would die. Should someone have volunteered to stay behind with anyone who couldn't be evacuated? Probably. But I don't think we can put ourselves in the state of fear or panic that the staff must have been feeling after days of no electricity, no food or water except what was on hand and not contaminated, rescue workers coming then not coming.

Really, I think these people need to be judged not by those of us who watched on TV, but those who lived through it. And the ones who did live through it and are now condemning the decison -- did they volunteer to stay behind with those who couldn't be evacuated? Seems that would have been the solution -- provided those people could count on receiving food, water, medical and toilet supplies for as long as they needed to be there.

Don't forget the looters going to the hospitals looking for drugs. Anyone staying could have been in grave danger. Very good points.

WE should not judge as we did not live under those conditions, and I am also sure the media showed us only the very worse..

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Queen of Confusion

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Daniceguy
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by DemonWolf:
According to wgat I've heard, the hospital (actually a long-term care facility) was in the process of being evacuated. I do not see any reason why "euthanasia" should have been preferable to attempting to move the patients. Had the patients died en route, at least the attempt to save them was made .
In this case, someone decided that these people were not worth saving and then took stapes to make sure that these patients could not be saved. They did not simply leave them, they did not "make them comfortable." They mixed up a pioson and ended the lives of four people (so far) rather than try to evacuate them.

I am glad that they are being charged. I hope that justce will prevail.

Suffering is so much easier to rationalize when it's not your own. Who cares how much these people were suffering, or whether they would die in pain. The IMPORTANT thing is that doctors and nurses drag their critically ill patients down dark staircases and out to rickety boats to make it LOOK like they're trying to wring every last second of life out of these poor people! Isn't that what medicine is all about?

P.S. DemonWolf , you should try to think before you type. Your logic and spelling would be much improved.

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"Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes!"

"No it isn't."

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GenYus
Away in a Manager's Special


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quote:
Originally posted by Christie:
There is a huge difference beween putting down a pet and putting down a human being.

Further, even if you want to try to make a case that suffering is suffering regardless of species (fair enough) there is also a big difference between choosing to euthanize someone you love and care about and presumaby know well enough to know that this is a choice they would want you to make. As opposed to going up and down the halls of a hospital choosing which patients get to die - no matter how "good" a reason you may have.

What about an animal shelter then? They have many animals to take care of and only a limited amount of resources to take care of them. They could try to give every animal the top level of care regardless of the animal's circumstances. This might mean that a puppy dies from heartworms because it was never treated due to all of the time being spend trying to keep a 16 year old dog with cancer alive. Or they could prioritize which animals have the best chance of surviving and being adopted and put down the ones that have little chance of surviving or being adopted.

If the hospital had limited resources, they basically had three options:

1. Give every patient the same rationed amount of care regardless of circumstances. This would probably mean that the critical patients die as a small rationed amount was not enough for them.
2. Give the critical patients all or most of the care. As they are critical, some of them will probably die anyway. And the non-critical patients will die as they are getting no care.
3. Give enough care to let the non-critical patients survive and do what you can for the critical patients.

It seems that they chose #3. This is the standard operation procedure for every triage that I have ever heard of. Those that will most likely die no matter what and those that will probably survive without care are left alone so that the time can be spend on those that will probably survive, but only if they get care.

And if you are going to choose #3, is it better to let those patients die naturally, from dehydration or other prolonged methods or is it better to terminate their lives relatively painlessly?

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IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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Christie
The Bills of St. Mary's


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I get cold chills at the idea of a doctor going up and down the halls of a hospital and picking and choosing which patients were not going to be given the chance to be evacuated. I am not disputing that they may have acted with that they felt was the best of noble intentions. But that they felt they had some right to play god under any circumstances appalls me.

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If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it's just possible you haven't grasped the situation. - Jean Kerr

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Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Oh yeah, let's not forget that "health care authorities" decided not to evacuate many people before the storm because they were considered too frail to move and were likely safer where they were. Then, after days of living in deteriorating conditions, they suddenly were strong enough that the hospital staff should have been able to evacuate them from a disaster scene....or so we are asked to believe.

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

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Christie
The Bills of St. Mary's


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quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
Oh yeah, let's not forget that "health care authorities" decided not to evacuate many people before the storm because they were considered too frail to move and were likely safer where they were. Then, after days of living in deteriorating conditions, they suddenly were strong enough that the hospital staff should have been able to evacuate them from a disaster scene....or so we are asked to believe.

The doctor and the nurses involved are clearly going to be the whipping boys here. Hopefully during the course of any trials that take place there will be a thorough airing of a helluva lot of dirty laundry.

And who told the doctor that "no one should be left alive"? That's the person who should be on trial right along with them.

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If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it's just possible you haven't grasped the situation. - Jean Kerr

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