Thursday, August 30, 2007

Judge agrees to expunge record of doctor accused in hospital deaths

A judge agreed Thursday to erase the public criminal record of a doctor arrested but never charged in the alleged killing of patients at a sweltering, flooded New Orleans hospital following Hurricane Katrina.

State District Judge Calvin Johnson also said authorities must keep secret all materials put before the grand jury that last month declined to indict Dr. Anna Pou.

Pou called Johnson's decision to expunge her public record "a huge step in helping me get by life back together."

Pou was arrested last year. Attorney General Charles Foti accused her of giving lethal doses of drugs to patients at Memorial Medical Center in Katrina's aftermath, but a grand jury refused to indict her on July 24.

At least 34 people died at Memorial after the Aug. 29., 2005, hurricane, many from dehydration during the four-day wait for rescuers. Katrina had flooded the lower floors of the hospital, knocked out electricity and left patients and medical personnel stranded for days.