Snowed under in New Orleans

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 13, 2005

Disaster brings out the best and the worst in people. We have heard numerous stories of heroic generosity and perseverance by the souls of New Orleans, and then we read this:

If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose. And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul.

Thus we have the anonymous confession of a New Orleans physician making snap decisions in the confusion that followed hurricane Katrina.

The extent of this modus operandi may never be determined if coroner investigations are cut short. In one hospital alone, however, 45 patients were found dead. The causes of death are undetermined. As of today, the death toll in New Orleans stands at 150, making the hospitals ground zero in New Orleans.

The cameras were fixated both on the suffering huddled in the Superdome and on the failure of government, but it seems that the more ominous failing was happening down the street where presumptuous physicians in the name of mercy resorted to murder.

You have to understand these people were going to die anyway.

Rest assured.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Sep. 19, 2005 1:09 PM ET USA

    Been gone for a few days on a short retreat, but I must say at the risk of some provocation that I find the direction of most of these comments quite used to be that the "higher" professions were restricted to men, and the case in point is excellent justification Ethics DEMANDS an absolutist perspective. One CANNOT, one MUST NOT buckle under difficult situatiions That one would, or could is a strong indicator that one is not called WHERE are the outraged doctors?Killing was wrong

  • Posted by: - Sep. 16, 2005 9:37 PM ET USA

    Vitae, you are not alone. I was studying Nursing and left because what I was being taught and what I was expected to do went against Catholic principles. And I too am now studing philosophy and theology on my own and wondering where it's going to lead me. And I can well sympathize with your views regarding New Orleans.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 16, 2005 5:46 PM ET USA

    All physicians are invited to our Medical Ethics Conference Oct 1 in Merriam, Kansas (Kansas City). It is by Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP and there is no charge. We would love to have you. We will have one for nurses soon. Please contact us at [email protected] and he can give you more info. It will, of course, be VERY Catholic. Fr. Ripperger is a wonderful speaker and has an incredible C.V. Please consider coming.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 16, 2005 11:19 AM ET USA

    Thank you for your comment. Part of the sympathetic anguish I feel for this NO doctor is because I don't know, I just can't say with certainty, what I would or would not have done in her shoes. I know what I believe here in the comfort of Minnesota, but her world must have been surreal. I'm a fallible person and hence a fallible physician, and I just can't bring myself to judge her when only God knows what led her to do what she did.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 16, 2005 6:36 AM ET USA

    Vitae: you are a thoughtful, intelligent and moral human being, as, just as obviously, is the physician who attempted to explain her own anguish. My mother died of cancer, and her last days were filled with pain and the slow rattle of imminent death. Had she been in the dome, under siege, I am not sure I would have argued against a more humane end for her, rather than to die in horrific pain and without another human to comfort her. This, for me, is one issue where I will not judge.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2005 7:30 PM ET USA

    Suffering exists in the world ultimately because of Original Sin. Add to that the sins we commit, day in and day out, and you have an abyss of sorrow only God can comprehend. Jesus understood the horrors of sin and made it possible for us to escape their eternal consequence by dying on the Cross. He did not spare us, however, the pain of death and innumerable griefs which, borne with patience for the love of God, are a means to perfect us. Patients need the crucifix, not death by euthanasia.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2005 4:27 PM ET USA

    Vitae, Read Conrad Baars. He faced the same thing that you did.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2005 2:57 PM ET USA

    Thanks to all for your suggestions. Hannah, you hit the nail on the head for me re: fear. That has held me back, along with trying to brainstorm ways to raise these issues so that life-affirming views will be taken seriously. To change hearts requires an openness on the part of the listener -- not easy in a time when even belief in God can be written off as in conflict with science. I am trying to discern how I can best try to change hearts -- from within medicine or without (e.g., philosophy).

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2005 11:37 AM ET USA

    Vitae:Fear is your worst enemy. My husband left a 20-year career in journalism for ethical reasons. Every awful thing you've heard about mainstream journalism is true. We no longer wanted to contribute to what we couldn't change through traditional means. Because of that decision our life has improved 100-fold. We found a less expensive place to live,started our own business and after a year, everything is great and getting better. I have to believe that God will lead if I am willing to follow.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 14, 2005 10:56 PM ET USA

    Vitae, you could contact One More Soul at They are very supportive of pro-life doctors (and not just OB/GYNs though you can understand why those specialists get the most emphasis there). They may have some ideas.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Sep. 14, 2005 9:42 PM ET USA

    My dear physician, Scripture says, If your brother sins, rebuke him (or her).. "brother" is the operational term.. Penalties escalate (in th Scripture) to finally being "cast out" if the individual refuses to change... Strange.., for all the sin that is being reported I don't see much rebuking, and definitely not any "casting out" I personally am a Nursinsg Supervisor,responsible for the ethical behaviour of other nurses.What will doctors who do nothing about this say to JC? JP

  • Posted by: - Sep. 14, 2005 12:03 PM ET USA

    Sorry, needed more space. I am one doc who DOES want to stand up for what's right, and may indeed leave my profession to study philosophy/theology to better address ethical issues facing medicine today. As this is a newly germinating idea for me, however, does anyone have any other concrete ideas for how docs can stand up for what is right? There's the Catholic Medical Assoc (of which I am a member), but I am looking for other ways in which I can do just what hannah suggests.Thanks in advance.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 14, 2005 11:58 AM ET USA

    I do not condone euthanasia or rationalizing that "they were going to die anyway" -- that was not what my post was about. I simply urged some restraint in judgment of the NO physicians. That it is heart-wrenching to have a cancer patient plead with you for morphine does not make deliberate overdosing moral. But such pleas must have been overwhelming to docs who had no other relief to give, not even their time. Docs who DID and DO the right thing don't get equal press coverage.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 14, 2005 11:20 AM ET USA

    Sorry, Doc. Medicine has taken a turn for the worse...much worse. Abortionists and the modern day mad scientist/researchers also rationalize the murder of innocent lives because of the, "they're going to die anyway" mentality. When are doctors like you going to stand up for what is RIGHT?

  • Posted by: - Sep. 13, 2005 10:34 PM ET USA

    As a physician, I do not condone euthanasia, however, I do urge some restraint in judgment of the physicians who were forced to make snap, life-or-death decisions in a virtual war zone. The fact that the physician quoted said she didn't know if she was doing the right thing, and asked for God's mercy, suggests to me that she is and will be plagued by guilt. Life-or-death decisions are never easy for a physician, and would be immeasurably more difficult to make in these horrendous conditions.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 13, 2005 9:36 PM ET USA

    Boy, usually mainstream media stories make even a cursory attempt to address all viewpoints. Not so in the linked article. No one appalled by these actions. No one vowing to investigate. No distraught family members. Just a sympathetic look at the doctors "forced" to make these "harrowing" decisions to help people "die with dignity." The only bad guy in the story is the too-slow federal government and the victims are the poor doctors...

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Sep. 13, 2005 5:32 PM ET USA

    Of course these people were going to die anyway. So are you. So am I.