Sunday 17 December 2017

Jackson's medic was grossly negligent, trial hears

Anaesthetic as a sleep aid was 'unfathomable'

Rachael Alexander in Los Angeles

MEDICAL experts repeatedly told jurors yesterday that Michael Jackson's doctor acted with "gross negligence" throughout his treatment of the pop star.

Prosecutors were nearing the end of their involuntary manslaughter case against physician Conrad Murray.

According to witnesses Dr Murray should have never given the singer propofol as a sleep aid. This point was forcefully made by Dr Nader Kamanger, a sleep expert who talked about the star's insomnia.

"It's beyond a departure from the standard of care into something unfathomable," he said.

Dr Kamanger said that, even if Jackson did somehow give himself the fatal dose of a drug, Dr Murray would still be at fault.

"Here you have a patient that may potentially have a substance abuse problem," Dr Kamanger said.

"It sounds like he had a substance abuse problem."

He also noted that Dr Murray left the singer alone in his bedroom on June 25, 2009, with a variety of drugs readily available.

Jackson's death, he said, was "a foreseeable complication".

Both Dr Kamanger and Dr Alon Steinberg, a cardiologist, said Dr Murray's admission that he did not call emergency services for at least 20 minutes, and his ineffectual resuscitation efforts, left the singer with little chance for survival.

"Every minute counts," Dr Steinberg said, adding that even a five-minute delay could be the difference between life and death.

He called Dr Murray's behaviour "strange" and, along with Dr Kamanger, criticised the cardiologist for trying to perform CPR on Jackson's bed rather than a hard surface.

Dr Kamanger and Dr Steinberg each listed multiple reasons why they felt Dr Murray acted with "gross negligence" while acting as Jackson's personal physician as the singer prepared for a series of comeback concerts in 2009.

Dr Steinberg noted that Dr Murray lacked sophisticated medical equipment that is present in hospital settings where propofol is supposed to be administered.


Dr Kamanger said there was no evidence that Dr Murray attempted to diagnose the underlying reasons why Jackson could not sleep.

Prosecutors are expected to conclude their portion of the case by calling anaesthesiology professor and researcher Dr Steven Shafer, a leading expert on propofol.

Defence lawyers are likely to call several witnesses and are relying on another anaesthesiologist, Dr Paul White, to try to counter the prosecution experts.

The defence case shifted yesterday when a lawyer for Dr Murray stunned the judge and prosecutors by saying he was abandoning the theory that Jackson swallowed the fatal dose of the anaesthetic propofol.

Dr Murray has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers have repeatedly told jurors they will show that Jackson gave himself either the anaesthetic or the sedative lorazepam without Dr Murray's knowledge.

Dr Murray could face up to four years behind bars and the loss of his medical licence if convicted.

Irish Independent

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