A doctor arrested in the deaths of four patients at a hospital amid the chaos following Hurricane Katrina sued the state attorney general Monday, accusing him of using the case to fuel his re-election bid.
The suit by Dr. Anna Pou also seeks to force the state to defend her against lawsuits filed by families of three of the patients. By state law, the attorney general’s office is required to defend state employees in civil cases. While working at Memorial Medical Center, Pou was affiliated with Louisiana State University.
Last year, State Attorney General Charles Foti claimed Pou and two nurses killed four people with a “lethal cocktail” of medicines at Memorial after the August 2005 storm.
The four were among at least 34 who died at the sweltering, flooded hospital in the days following Katrina. Pou has not been formally charged. A grand jury is looking into the case.
Foti had Pou arrested, then “called an international press conference the next day to announce the arrest,” the suit says. Foti also made unprofessional comments, and capped the week with a fundraiser “to showcase his ‘achievements’ in the arrest of Dr. Pou and the two nurses,” the suit says.
Foti did not immediately return a call Monday.
Pou and nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry were arrested and booked with second-degree murder. Foti alleged the women put desperately ill patients to death after determining the patients were either too ill or too incapacitated to be moved following Katrina.
The cases against Budo and Landry were dropped after they testified before the grand jury last month.
Blame for the hospital deaths, as well as others following the storm, should more properly be placed with the state and its agencies, including the attorney general’s office, the lawsuit says.
Foti, the suit says, failed to carry out his duties to ensure that all state agencies, including the department of transportation, developed plans to evacuate the at-risk population as called for in Louisiana’s emergency operation plan.
Pre-storm plan a failure?
The state’s pre-storm plan was a failure, the suit says, and so were its post-storm efforts. For days after the hurricane, the state abandoned patients and medical personnel at Memorial Medical, the suit says.
After the arrests, the results of Foti’s investigation were turned over to the Orleans Parish district attorney.
Pou has not been formally charged and has been free on bond since her arrest July 17, 2006.