Discussion – week 11

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    Rachel Vargo

    1) The columnist’s statement highlights what we’ve known since the beginning of the book – Memorial was incredibly unprepared for Katrina, and there was no reason for it. The hospital staff that was in charge of disaster planning failed its employees and patients. The heartbreaking decisions that ended up being made wouldn’t have had to even been thought about had they been prepared. There was no reason that many patients, family members, and staff had to suffer so much, and I believe the individuals involved in disaster planning that clearly didn’t take Katrina seriously should have been fired immediately after the storm and possibly even punished.

    2) Thiele described the storm as a disaster. He heard shouting and gunshots from the neighborhood. He called his family and said he may not see them again as he believed he might not survive. Thiele debated with himself whether it was right or wrong to euthanize patients and suffocate a man. He was taken to a nearby airport shortly afterwards where he witnessed hundreds of critically ill patients slowly dying under the care of 4 DMATs. They wouldn’t allow doctors and nurses to help, so he came to the conclusion that if those patients he “spared” were to have come here, they all would have died a slow painful death.

    3) There were doctors and nurses that shared the thought that it was unethical to let a patient suffer a slow and painful death. They thought that if a patient was gasping for air and dying anyway, they might as well put them out of their misery, especially if they had a terminal illness or were unlikely to survive the next few days. Several nurses and family members believed the complete opposite, agreeing it is never up to another person when someone dies no matter the situation. It is nobody’s right to play God and there is no way of knowing what the patient would have wanted if they weren’t asked or couldn’t communicate.

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