Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What would you do?

This posting comes with a homework assignment. Here's a link to a Newsweek article from two years ago (2007). I'm learning that here in New Orleans, people don't necessarily speak in terms of years; for them time has been neatly divided into "before the storm" and "after Katrina" categories. To that end, this article was written two years after the storm.


Read it? Seriously, do it. I'll wait. This post isn't going to make nearly as much sense if you try to shirk your homework assignment here.

I came across this story the other day, after some of our new friends down here were telling us about the New Orleans hospital accused of euthanizing critically ill patients during hurricane Katrina once conditions deteriorated to the point where there was nothing else that could be done for them. You've now read the article so I'll let you decide for yourselves how you feel about that, but regardless of where exactly your morals align, can you imagine how bad it must have been for all those poor people--doctors and patients alike--stuck in that hospital with those conditions, and being told that no help is coming? I can't. I don't know the specifics of that particular hospital, but I've read enough about some of the others down here to know that they weren't necessarily very well equipped to handle the aftermath of a storm like that. The hospital where I work now for example, stored its emergency generators in the basement. Arguably the worst place in the world to keep something so important during a flood.

Like I said, I'm not going to pick sides in this one. I'm no even going to try to justify what those doctors did or didn't do. I wasn't here, I can't even imagine ever being in a situation like that--who am I to judge the decisions they made? What I will say is that if it were me laying there in a hospital bed, critically ill and hooked up to an oxygen tank that was quickly running out, knowing that once it does I will slowly suffocate to death...well...a shot of morphine seems like a much more humane way to go.

This is really very morbid and it makes me sad to think about. I apologize. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer here. I'm fascinated by all of the untold stories of hurricane Katrina though, and I think this one is especially thought-provoking. If anyone out there is reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really glad I read this blog today. It really makes me think about some of the insane circumstances physicians could possibly find themselves in, and forces me to remember that their important decisions affect PEOPLE. Real, live, human beings. Additionally, it reminds me that the physicians are also just PEOPLE. I wasn't in that dreadful hospital when this happened, so I can't really determine where I stand on the ethics of it 100%. So, regardless of whether the doctor was truly right or wrong (which I don't believe another person can REALLY decide) in her actions, I feel sympathy for anyone who even had to be faced with such a tough dilemma.


I'd love to hear from those of you who are reading! comments, questions, complaints...whatever. I promise to read them all and respond to most.