katrinaIn Katrina’s wake, public safety officers and medical personnel were faced with unimaginable choices. Some walked away from their posts and evacuated with their families, but most stayed behind to witness the chaos and confront very real, life and death issues.

To mark the fourth anniversary of Katrina, this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine will feature an extensive investigative report of the choices that confronted doctors and staff at New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center in the hours that followed the hurricane’s landfall. It is hard to take, but it represents a microcosm of ethical issues that enter into our current healthcare debate.

Critics of healthcare reform, may raise such strawmen as “healthcare rationing” and “death panels,” but in August/September 2005 the inept response of government at all levels forced doctors to confront those choices in real life.