Conrad Murray Trial Should End With a Guilty Verdict

gavelI don't completely disagree with the defense attorney for Dr. Conrad Murray. Ed Chernoff claims that Michael Jackson caused his own death by swallowing several extra lorazepam pills in addition to a self-administered dose of the anesthetic propofol. The argument is a plausible one; clearly Jackson was in the depths of a dangerous addiction, and addicts are known for making catastrophically bad choices.

But that doesn't change the fact that Murray was the one responsible for allegedly supplying Jackson with propofol in the first place. Propofol, in case you didn't know, is an operating room-grade anesthetic. A nightly intravenous dose of propofol to treat insomnia? As one researcher and co-author of a study on propofol abuse put it: "No one would ever use this to sleep ... Never, ever. It would be like using a shotgun to kill a small mouse."

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Propofol abuse is extremely rare, usually limited to medical professionals (generally the only people who have access to the drug), and it has an incredibly high fatality rate. Apparently the "margin of error" for using the anesthetic is extremely slim; it doesn't take much of the drug to cross the line from "euphoric" to "dead."

As his doctor, Murray knew that Michael Jackson was taking a huge risk by using propofol on a daily basis, particularly in combination with lorazepam (brand name: Ativan), a benzodiazepine used in the treatment of anxiety. Both drugs are respiratory depressants. When a person dies of a drug overdose, they die from respiratory depression (in other words, they stop breathing).

I'm sure Murray didn't mean for Jackson to die. I would even guess, from his courtroom tears, that he didn't feel completely comfortable with his patient's regime. Michael Jackson was an extremely wealthy and powerful addict who was paying Murray $150,000 per month for very customized care. The pressure must have been intense.

Still, Murray knew he was playing with pharmaceutical fire.

Do you think it's Dr. Conrad Murray's fault that Michael Jackson died?

 

Image via Brian Turner/Flickr

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