Expert says Jackson’s doctor failed to follow standard of care

The world was shocked on June 25, 2009, after learning about the tragic death of Michael Jackson. Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson’s doctor and friend, has since been accused of causing Jackson’s death after the physician allegedly violated numerous medical practices while caring for the singer. This week marked the beginning of the sixth week of Murray’s trial, and prosecutors brought their final witnesses forward for questioning.

Murray has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the alleged wrongful death of Jackson. Prosecutors argue that the pop star died as a result of medical negligence and that Murray should not have been using the anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid for Jackson. Experts who have done extensive research on propofol stated during questioning that they do not believe that Murray followed the standard of care while administering the anesthetic to Jackson in the singer’s own bedroom.

After leaving Jackson in his bedroom alone for two minutes, Murray claims that he returned to find the singer unresponsive. Although Murray has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges, doctors and experts acknowledged Monday during questioning that Murray may have broken medical guidelines and rules while treating the pop star.

During last week’s questioning, Dr. Paul White, a retired anesthesiologist and clinical researcher, said that he believes that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose of propofol based on evidence in the case. However, Dr. Steven Shafer, who is also an anesthesiologist, argues that Murray administered the fatal dose.

Although experts continue to disagree on whether or not Jackson died as a result of self-administering the anesthetic or from overdosing on the drug, White concluded Monday during questioning that Murray did not use the drug for its intended purpose and that the drug should have only been administered in a clinical setting instead of in the privacy of Jackson’s bedroom.

The retired anesthesiologist also concluded that Murray should have used better equipment to monitor Jackson’s vital signs while the doctor was not inside the singer’s bedroom. White stated during questioning that he has not been aware of any other doctor who has administered the drug in a patient’s home for the purpose of helping a patient to achieve a “sleep state.”

Our Illinois medical malpractice blog will continue to revisit this case as other significant developments occur during the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, “Witness: Jackson’s doctor didn’t follow protocol,” Anthony McCartney, Oct. 31, 2011

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