No indictment in Katrina hospital deaths

An Orleans Parish grand jury today refused to indict Doctor Anna Pou, the cancer surgeon accused of murdering four seriously ill patients after Hurricane Katrina.

Pou and two nurses were arrested last summer after Attorney General Charles Foti's investigation concluded they killed four people with a "lethal cocktail" at Memorial Medical Center during the chaotic conditions after the August 2005 storm.

Lawyers for the three said they acted heroically, staying to treat patients rather than evacuating.

Charges against nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry were dropped after they were compelled to testify last month before a grand jury.

The grand jury had been investigating the charges since March.

Pou -- whose specialty is eye, ear, nose and throat surgery -- gave up her private practice after she was arrested. She has been working at LSU medical school in Baton Rouge, teaching residents.

After Katrina broke levees on August 29th, 2005, flooding 80 percent of New Orleans, the lower level of the 317-bed hospital was under ten feet of water. Electric power throughout the city failed and temperatures inside the hospital topped 100 degrees.

At least 34 people died at the hospital, many from dehydration during the four-day wait for rescuers to evacuate them.

Foti said the four Pou was accused of murdering, ranging in age from 61 to 90 years old, would have survived if they hadn't been given morphine and midazolam hydrochloride. The drugs are central nervous system depressants.