Comments of Rick Simmons, Legal Counsel for Dr. Anna Pou
Regarding the New York Times Magazine Posting of August 28, 2009
In the midst of a sea of sensational quotes, attributable to others, the author attempts to resurrect the former Louisiana Attorney General's case of euthanasia against Dr. Anna Pou, who, despite being abandoned by government at all levels, fought for four days to save patients' lives. The article depends too heavily on rumor, innuendo, hearsay and third party comments that have never been tested in Court, yet, they are presented as facts.
The Former Attorney General’s “arrest affidavit” case against Dr. Pou based upon statements of Lifecare staff has been soundly rejected, not only by a thoughtful and thorough Grand Jury, but by the public at large. To promote to the reading public that this article offers anything new regarding Dr. Pou and her experiences during the tragic events at Memorial is disingenuous at best and profiteering in the extreme.
As she said during a CBS “60 Minutes” interview, and in other articles, Dr. Pou does not believe in, nor practice euthanasia. She did not murder any patients and she did not announce that she was there to give “lethal doses of medications” to the patients. To suggest that someone who would hand ventilate patients for days and hours on end and then abruptly euthanize them is ludicrous.
The basic fallacies in the web weaved by the author are:
1. There is an effort to assert that Dr. Pou was tasked with the evacuation of the Lifecare patients by placing her at meetings she did not attend (the author refused to publish Dr. Pou’s statement that she was not at the fourth floor meeting “attended by dozens of doctors”) while, in fact, Dr. Pou was not responsible for the evacuation of the Lifecare patients;
2. “Cherry-picking” certain statements from exhausted medical personnel functioning among the chaos and confusion and using such statements to make it appear that Dr. Pou was a participant and privy to such comments and actions; and
3. The portion of the story about Dr. Pou is sandwiched between the alleged statements by and alleged actions of two other doctors whose comments, if true, do not reflect Dr. Pou’s intention (e.g., alleged comments by Dr. Cook “a combination of drugs to make the patients go to sleep and die” and Dr. Theile's alleged statement that the “goal was death.”) To the contrary, at all times, Dr. Pou’s intention was not to kill, but to prevent pain and suffering.
Some of the distortion of “statements” attributed to Dr. Pou in the article relate to an effort to avoid corporate liability, (e.g., Lifecare), and thus must be read against the chaos and confusion during the events which may have led to incorrect conclusions regarding the intent of Dr. Pou’s actions.
In many instances, such comments may be taken out of context: (a) “telling people they didn’t have to be there” or “they should evacuate”. Many caregivers, while well intended, were not able to cope with the situation and needed to leave. Generally, caregivers were reluctant to leave, and had to be encouraged to do so. (b) “I’m going to give you something to make you feel better”. This is a common comment heard in every hospital everyday and can easily be misunderstood.
Other comments which apparently are inaccurately attributed to Dr. Pou, who was not present for those comments/conversations. For example, Dr. Pou neither participated in nor was privy to, the alleged conversations between Dr. Deichmann and Susan Mulderick; between Susan Mulderick and the Lifecare staff relative to the evacuation of the Lifecare patients; between Dr. King and others and finally, the various incidents of patient interactions by Dr. Cook and Dr. Theile.
Finally, there are other aspects of the article “Dr. Pou looked nervous" or "upset" that seem to imply from Dr. Pou’s demeanor that wrongful conduct was occurring. Would anyone suggest that after four days of being abandoned by our Government and comforting dying patients, one would be in a state of euphoria?
Dr. Pou volunteered to stay in the nearly abandoned hospital while others went to safety. Dr. Pou actually negotiated the dark stairwells of the hospital to return to the Lifecare floor on more than one occasion to check on and care for patients, evacuating around 6:00 p.m. that last night. During his meeting with Dr. Pou, the coroner was surprised to learn this fact and at the end stated that he did not believe Dr. Pou had the intent to kill these patients. These patients were never “abandoned” in any regard.
In the weeks before publication, Dr. Pou insisted but the author and the New York Times refused to include contrary expert opinions (available at www.drannapou.com, See Medical Experts) and to test the credibility of certain statements (e.g., if Dr. Pou announced an intention to give "lethal doses" to patients, why would the Lifecare pharmacist suggest and obtain Versed from the Lifecare pharmacy?)
The author, who followed Dr. Pou everywhere, pretending to be a supporter of Dr. Pou and her legislative reform, worked this story for more than 2 years, far too long to produce something so sloppy and inaccurate. Publishing this in conjunction with the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is a shameful attempt to capitalize on the pain and tragedy of others and to boost the flogging sales of a once great American newspaper.
Very truly yours,
RICHARD T. SIMMONS, JR.
Counsel for Dr. Anna Pou