Apple TV+’s medical drama ‘Five Days at Memorial’ centers around the people who get stuck in Memorial Medical Center and LifeCare Hospitals, two hospitals that operate in the same New Orleans building, during Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flood. Along with many other doctors, Dr. Anna Pou looks after the patients in the hospitals and leads evacuation procedures.
The doctor also gets alleged to have administered lethal doses of morphine and/or other drugs to multiple patients whose dead bodies get discovered several days after the evacuation of the hospital building. Since Anna is one of the central characters of the narrative, the viewers must be wondering whether she is based on a real doctor. Let us answer the same!
Is Dr. Anna Pou Based on a Real Memorial Doctor?
Yes, Dr. Anna Pou is based on a real Memorial doctor. Pou was one of the doctors who worked at the Memorial Medical Center during the five days the hospital building was isolated due to flooding in 2005. She also treated patients in LifeCare during the period. After the discovery of 45 dead bodies at Memorial several days after the evacuation, autopsies were conducted, and morphine was detected in 9 dead bodies of LifeCare patients.
Nearly after a year, in July 2006, Anna Pou, along with two nurses, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of four of the nine patients. In a 2007 interview with Newsweek, Pou eventually revealed that she administered morphine to nine patients with the knowledge that the medication might hasten their deaths. “The intention was to help the patients that were having pain and sedate the patients who were anxious. That was it,” she said in the interview, adding that she didn’t intend to kill the patients.
During the time, Pou also dismissed the accusations that she euthanized the patients. “I do not believe in euthanasia. I don’t think that it’s anyone’s decision to make when a patient dies. However, what I do believe in is comfort care. And that means that we ensure that they do not suffer pain,” she told Morley Safer for ‘60 Minutes.’ In March 2007, a state grand jury was sworn in to consider Pou’s case. The district attorney’s office prepared a 10-count bill of indictment.
The indictment reportedly comprised one count of second-degree murder of Emmett Everett and nine counts of the lesser conspiracy to commit second-degree murder of each of the nine patients who died in LifeCare Hospitals against Pou and presented in front of the jury. On July 24, 2007, the grand jury decided to not indict the doctor on any of the aforementioned counts. The jury’s decision came after Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard’s classification of the cause of the death of the patients, as per reports, as “undetermined” rather than homicide.
Where is Dr. Anna Pou Now?
Dr. Anna Pou is currently practicing as a doctor specializing in head and neck surgical oncology in a cancer center located in the city of Covington in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. After the jury had declined to indict Pou, charges against her got expunged. About receiving the news concerning the same, Pou said in a press conference that she was “at home with my husband and I fell to my knees and thanked God.”
In 2009, a resolution was passed wherein the State of Louisiana agreed to pay Pou’s legal fees of over $450,000 after the jury’s decision to not indict the doctor. In the years that followed, Pou played an integral part in writing and passing three laws in Louisiana that provide immunity to health care professionals from most civil lawsuits, except cases of willful misconduct, for their work in future disasters that range from hurricanes to pandemic influenza.
Pou has also become a distinguished speaker in the medical field, prominently talking about the role of medical professionals during disasters and ethical considerations of physicians during disasters among many more subjects. In 2021, Pou received a presidential citation from The American Head and Neck Society. Understandably, Dr. Anna Pou has chosen to keep her personal life private, dedicating her social media accounts to sharing fundraisers she believes in.