updated 9/21/2006 6:44:48 PM ET 2006-09-21T22:44:48

A doctor accused of murdering four critically ill hospital patients with injections in the harrowing days after Hurricane Katrina is defending herself publicly for the first time, saying in a TV interview that she gave them drugs simply to ease their pain.

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“I have spent my entire life taking care of patients. I have no history of doing anything other than good for my patients,” Dr. Anna Pou said in an interview to be aired Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “Why would I suddenly start murdering people?”

Nurses Cheri Landry and Lori Budo also proclaim their innocence in the interview. They and Pou were arrested on suspicion of murder in July.

“I want everyone to know that I am not a murderer. That we are not murderers,” Pou said.

The three have not been formally charged, pending the outcome of a grand jury investigation.

The Louisiana attorney general’s office said Pou and the nurses injected a lethal cocktail of drugs into the four bedridden patients after determining they were too ill to be moved from Memorial Medical Center. The 317-bed hospital was flooded in 10 feet of water, the electricity had failed and temperatures had climbed to over 100 degrees.

At least 34 people died at the hospital — many succumbing to dehydration as they waited four days for help to arrive.

According to state investigators, tissue samples from the dead, who ranged in age from 61 to 90, tested positive for both morphine and the sedative Versed, and the amount of Versed was found to be higher than the usual therapeutic dose.

The medical community has aggressively defended Pou, Landry and Budo, pointing out that the two drugs are commonly used in combination to reduce pain.

Pou, an ear, nose and throat specialist, said her goal was to make her patients comfortable, and “that means that we ensure they do not suffer in pain.” She also said she does not believe in euthanasia.

Pou acknowledged the drugs could have caused harm, but stressed: “Anytime you provide pain medicine to anybody, there is a risk. But as I said, my role is to help them through the pain.”

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