NEW ORLEANS – The doctor accused of killing four patients at a hospital that was plunged into chaos after Hurricane Katrina has been reassigned to non-clinical duties, a supervisor said Thursday.
Dr. Daniel Nuss, head of the otolaryngology department at Louisiana State University, said that he and Dr. Anna Pou decided Wednesday that she should quit practicing medicine until the case is resolved. Pou's competence is not an issue, he said.
"I would have her in this moment if she could work now," Nuss said. "I know her and I know what a great doctor she is."
Pou, one of only a handful of head/neck cancer doctors in southern Louisiana, was reassigned to research and teaching duties in the LSU's medical system, Nuss said.
Pou's attorney, Rick Simmons, said she had surgeries scheduled this week that were abruptly canceled after her arrest Monday night. Pou had offered to surrender, but she received no notice of the pending arrest, he said.
Pou and nurses Cheri Landry and Lori Budo are accused of being principals to second-degree murder in the death of four patients at Memorial Medical Center after Katrina last year. The charge carries a mandatory life sentence, though formal charges will be up to the New Orleans prosecutor, who was given a report from the attorney general on the case Thursday.
The attorney general accuses the three of giving lethal amounts of morphine and a sedative to acute care patients who might have otherwise survived, killing them three days after the storm.
Through attorneys, the women have said they are innocent and are being made scapegoats after being stranded for days without electricity, running water or communications in a hospital flooded with 10 feet of water.
Budo's attorney, Eddie Castaing, said she is not currently working as a nurse. A call to Landry's attorney wasn't immediately returned Thursday.
One of the suspected victims, 90-year-old Rose Savoie, had suffered from bronchitis but was otherwise in good health, family members said Wednesday.
"She didn't act like a 90-year-old," Jennie Crabtree said of her mother, Rose Savoie. "She was all there. She knew where she was. She knew who she was."
The daughter of another patient said that her mother, Ireatha Watson, had been very sick, with gangrene in both legs and dementia, but that she had been stable two days before Katrina hit.