Katrina deaths: 11 health institutions cleared

The Louisiana Attorney General's Office has cleared eight nursing homes and three hospitals of any wrongdoing in deaths related to Hurricane Katrina, a spokeswoman says.

"These hospitals were never, quote, `investigated.' It's just that we were looking at every death that occurred," said Kris Wartelle, spokeswoman for Attorney General Charles Foti.

That leaves five nursing homes and three hospitals still being checked out, Wartelle said. She would not release names of those cleared.

At least 140 patients at New Orleans-area hospitals and nursing homes died during the storm and its aftermath.

Foti's office never released names most of the 13 nursing homes and six hospitals where patients died during or in the days after the storm "because it would be unfair to say we are investigating them and then it turns out to be nothing," Wartelle said in an e-mail Wednesday.

However, two owners of a nursing home in St. Bernard Parish were charged in September with 34 counts of negligent homicide for flood deaths there.

And Foti's office has subpoenaed 73 people, all hospital employees, in a probe of deaths, including the possibility of euthanasia, at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans.

Investigators have told officials with the Tenet HealthCare Corp., which owns Memorial, that the corporation itself and Memorial's administration are not under investigation, said Steve Campanini, a Tenet spokesman, reports the AP.

I.L.

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