Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Trial of Dr. Conrad Murray

Yesterday there was some discussion between a few friends as to what the punishment should be for Dr. Murray, who was treating Michael Jackson when he died. The trial is underway and, some say, losing his medical license is enough punishment, while I felt that there should also be jail time. The charges against him are involuntary manslaughter. I admit to not knowing all the facts and I based my opinion on what I heard over the past two years. So to be fair I read a few of the specifics of the evidence that will be presented at trial and stated in opening arguments.

For giving up his medical practice in order to care for Michael Jackson exclusively, Dr. Murray was paid the sum of $150,000 per month. Even though he claimed to be weaning Jackson off the drug propofol, Dr. Murray ordered large quantities of propofol starting in April and up until Jackson’s death. The drug is an anesthetic to be used only in highly monitored hospital settings, and the standard of care was violated by using it outside a hospital and as a sleep aid. There was no resuscitation equipment at the home in case of emergency. After giving him propofol, Dr. Murray left the room leaving Jackson unattended for “two minutes” that he admits to, yet his phone records indicate otherwise. Beside Jackson’s bed were additional bottles of pills. It was noted that 911 was not immediately called. When 911 was called they were never told about propofol being administered.

The treatment was improper for insomnia. There was clearly a lack of proper equipment present as required when propofol is administered. Dr. Murray was found to have made many phones calls between 10:20 and 11:51 and discovered Michael Jackson unconscious at 11:56. He called 911 at 12:20, twenty-four minutes after finding him unconscious. At 11:51 Dr. Murray was on the phone with his girlfriend and subsequently the phone went dead, presumably when he noticed Jackson’s physical state. He stopped responding to the girlfriend and the phone went dead. At 12:12 Dr. Murray called Michael Jackson’s assistant asking him to call him right away. The assistant called back and Dr. Murray told him Michael had a bad reaction to the medication. Dr. Murray still had not called 911.

Dr. Murray was not medically specialized to use the drug propofol. He acted repeatedly with gross negligence and repeatedly failed to use appropriate care. If convicted he could spend four years in prison and lose his license. Considering the numerous acts of gross negligence involved that he performed, as a medical doctor, I am sticking with my original opinion that prison time is in order. The facts speak for themselves. He is responsible for all his actions.  He will probably not serve four years even if sentenced to four.

I’m sure Dr. Murray had other options, including calling in a medical specialist on Jackson’s case. However, if he was acting in a way that was not ethical, not medically sound, against his Hippocratic Oath, against the law, outside the parameters of the medical protocol required, and against common sense even, what specialist could he consult with who would put his own career at risk? No one was going to condone what he was doing so he took it upon himself to administer lethal drugs in an improper setting without the necessary monitoring equipment and with full knowledge of the risks involved. Then, against common sense, he delayed calling 911 because he had been on the phone with his girlfriend and not at Michael Jackson’s side, to see exactly what happened before he went unconscious. Maybe if he had been there, CPR may have worked if performed earlier? And, he never even told emergency personnel that propofol had been administered.

I guess we will wait to see what the jury thinks about the facts of the case. But from where I am sitting, his actions were criminally negligent and deserve prison time.

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