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NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A doctor and two nurses who worked through the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina were arrested overnight, accused of giving four patients stranded at their hospital lethal doses of morphine and a sedative, authorities said Tuesday.
The arrest warrants say that Dr. Anna Pou and the two nurses intentionally killed four patients at Memorial Medical Center "by administering or causing to be administered lethal doses of morphine sulphate (morphine) and midazolam (Versed)."
Foti had subpoenaed more than 70 people last fall in an investigation into rumors that medical personnel at Memorial Medical Center had euthanized patients who were in pain after the hurricane as they waited in miserable conditions for rescue.
Angela McManus said Tuesday that her 70-year-old mother was among the patients who died at Memorial. Her mother had been recovering from a blood infection but seemed fine and was still able to speak when police demanded relatives of the ill evacuate. She died later that day, McManus said.
"At least now I'll be able to get some answers," McManus said. "For months, I haven't known what happened to my mom. I need some answers just to be able to function."
From the early 1900s to the 1970s, some 65,000 men and women were sterilized in this country, many without their knowledge, as part of a government eugenics program to keep so-called undesirables from reproducing.
Dr. Ben deBoisblanc, director of critical care at Charity Hospital, said he and others are angry at the accusations against a doctor and nurses who risked their own safety, and provided care in a chaotic and frightening situation.
"This doctor and these nurses were heroes. They stayed behind of their own volition to care for desperately ill people. They had an opportunity to leave and chose not to," he said.
Memorial Medical was swamped with 10 feet of water and isolated by Katrina's flooding. The 317-bed hospital had no electricity and the temperature inside rose over 100 degrees as the staff tried to tend to patients who waited four days to be evacuated.
Pou, Landry and Budo were the first medical professionals charged in a monthslong criminal investigation into whether many of New Orleans' sick and elderly were abandoned or put out of their misery in the days after the storm.
Under such conditions, even patients who might have been able to walk or were relatively stable before Katrina could easily have lapsed into critical condition, doctors say.
"It's very easy for a relatively healthy person to go down quickly," said Dr. Daniel Nuss, Pou's department head at Louisiana State University, where Pou has given up clinical duties until the case is resolved.