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A grand jury refused Tuesday to indict a doctor accused of murdering four seriously ill hospital patients with drug injections during the desperate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, closing the books on a case that enraged the city's medical community.

Dr. Anna Pou, 51, acknowledged administering medication to the patients but insisted that she did so only to relieve pain.

Pou and two nurses were arrested after Attorney General Charles Foti concluded that they gave "lethal cocktails" to four patients at the flooded-out, sweltering Memorial Medical Center after the August 2005 storm.

"I regret their decision," Foti said of the grand jurors. He criticized the district attorney's office for not calling on certain witnesses to testify. The district attorney, Eddie Jordan, said, "the grand jury did the right thing."

Pou declined to answer questions about what happened because the families of three patients have sued. "All of us need to remember the magnitude of human suffering that occurred in the city of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina."

Charges against the nurses were dropped after they agreed to testify before the grand jury.

Many people in New Orleans believed the three acted heroically under punishing conditions. When the levees broke in New Orleans, the lower level of Memorial Medical Center was under 10 feet of water, and electricity was out across the city. At least 34 people died at the hospital, many from dehydration during the four-day wait for rescuers.

Foti said all four patients in question would have survived if they had not been given morphine and midazolam hydrochloride. Autopsies were performed, but results were not released.

Information from the Los Angeles Times was used in this report.

Fast facts

Loans canceled

The U.S. Small Business Administration canceled nearly 11,900 loans to residents affected by the 2005 hurricanes to help clear a backlog of approved, but undisbursed, loans, a draft report shows. The inquiry began after employees reported the agency canceled loans unnecessarily to meet production standards.