Although he has not officially reopened the case into the deaths of patients at a New Orleans hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the district attorney is taking another look at the facts surrounding the matter.
"My office has not reopened an investigation into the deaths at Memorial hospital," Leon Cannizzaro said in a statement released Friday. "As district attorney, I have a legal obligation to evaluate statements regarding possible criminal activity in this jurisdiction," the statement said. "I am making that kind of evaluation, but that does not constitute an investigation by this office."
Cannizzaro told the New Orleans Times Picayune that he will interview New Orleans coroner Frank Minyard regarding the deaths of Memorial Medical Center patients.
In 2006, Then-Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. ordered the arrest of Dr. Anna Pou and two nurses, Lori Budo and Cheri Landry, on preliminary charges of second-degree murder in the deaths of four patients. Former Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan, who under Louisiana law was responsible for prosecuting crimes, gave Budo and Landry immunity in exchange for their testimony. In July 2007, the grand jury refused to indict Pou.
Foti said his investigation revealed that the four patients -- ages 63, 68, 91 and 93 -- were given a "lethal cocktail" of morphine and midazolam hydrochloride, both central nervous system depressants. Pou, Landry and Budo all denied the charges, and their attorneys said they acted heroically, staying to treat patients rather than evacuate.
Pou has admitted giving the patients drugs. "If in doing so it hastened their deaths, then that's what happened," she told Newsweek at the time. "But this was not, 'I'm going to go to the seventh floor and murder some people.' We're here to help patients." If the case were reopened, the court could find that criminal charges may be forthcoming.