Monday, August 26, 2013

Everybody Has A Price

You may not realize it, but the Michael Jackson trial is still ongoing. While the country has seen the George Zimmerman trial come and go, the Jackson family's $40 billion wrongful death trial against his concert promoter AEG has steadily marched onward. I normally would not bother with this sad specter of celebrity self destruction, but some news came out of the courtroom last week that I thought was worth mentioning.

As it turns out, Mr. Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, realized that he was not qualified to give his client the propofol he craved to help him overcome his insomnia and drug dependency. In 2009, he contacted Dr. David Adams, a "roving anesthesiologist" who had given Michael propofol on four separate occasions for dental work. Dr. Murray asked Dr. Adams if he wanted to join Michael on his world tour. Dr. Adams naively and amusingly testified that he didn't initially understand the question since he could neither sing nor dance. When it was explained to him that Michael needed an IV to help him sleep, he finally started getting the picture. He was asked how much money it would take for him to close his practice and follow Michael on his concert tour to treat his insomnia. After taking a short time to consider, he came up with a number: $100,000 per month for three years. When he relayed his demand to the Jackson camp, his calls were never returned. Dr. Murray was then signed up for $150,000 to work as both the personal physician and anesthetist; probably the worst bargain he ever made.

We can all see how unethical it was for Drs. Murray and Adams to even consider treating Michael with propofol. But when faced with offers of unbelievable riches, who can blame them? I've never had anybody proposition me with a blank check for administering anesthesia. I would like to think that I would refuse the money if the task was not medically sound, but who knows. There is always another human need or want that could be easily sated with just a few more dollars in the checking account. When we all took our Hippocratic Oath after graduating medical school, nowhere did it mention that we should stay away from celebrities wishing to toss money at us to do whatever they want.

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