Five Days at Memorial, by Sheri FinkWell, what a brutal book this was. In short, when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, hospitals all over the city faced huge crises...patients and staff were stranded for days without adequate water, air conditioning, and electricity. At Memorial, thousands of people and pets were stranded. The infrastructure and medical staff were grossly unprepared for the crisis that followed.
Not only was the rescue attempt poorly organized and managed (part of this was due to lack of resources in the city and the gross negligence of the hospital's parent company), but also, a few of the staff developed a sort of triage system to decide who should be rescued first.
Those who had a DNR (do not resuscitate) were rescued last, and patients in a nursing home that leased hospital space were at the bottom of the list as well. In the end, 45 patients died...far more than in other hospitals...doctors hastened the deaths of critically ill patients by injecting them with morphine. What bothered me the most about this story is that the patients' family members were kept in the dark completely. The doctors played God with these patients' lives.
Most of the blame for the horrors landed on Dr. Anna Pou...she was one of three women charged with second-degree murder; however, all charges were dropped. It seemed unfair that only the women were charged, as some male physicians were implicated as well...but the most egregious outcome is that Anna Pou went onto become some kind of expert in disaster medicine ethics!
This book should be read by every medical person and hospital administrator. Our hospitals and other infrastructure are terribly unprepared for natural disasters of this magnitude, which could happen anywhere!