Caldwell: Keep Katrina hospital deaths investigation secret

Chris Rizo Oct. 14, 2008, 11:21am

James "Buddy" Caldwell (D)

NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline)-Evidence that former Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti collected as a part of his investigation into deaths at Memorial Medical Center following Hurricane Katrina should remain secret at least for now, the state's new attorney general says.

The materials are being sought by CNN and The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. The two media outlets have asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision that sealed the investigations into four deaths at the hospital following the August 2005 hurricane.

Foti's investigation led to the arrest of Dr. Anna Pou and two nurses. They were accused of killing four patients who were trapped at the hospital during the storm. Pou and the nurses were accused of giving the patients lethal combinations of the sedative Versed and morphine.

Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell, urging the high court to keep the records secret, said his office is still combing the records.

He said he doubted that charges could arise from the investigation against Pou, an associate professor in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

"We may still see criminal cases arise out of this investigation. Not against Dr. Pou, I don't expect that, but there were 34 deaths at that hospital and not all of those investigations were wrapped up," the attorney general said.

The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled the materials should be protected since no one has been found guilty or acquitted in the patients' deaths.

Although Pou was cleared of criminal wrongdoing, she faces three civil suits filed by the families of patients who died.

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