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Jackson doctor was desperate and devastated: Murray trial update

By | Published on Tuesday 4 October 2011

Conrad Murray

The emergency room doctors who tried, very much in vain, to save the life of Michael Jackson on 25 Jun 2009 were yesterday the latest to testify in the trial of Conrad Murray, the medic accused of causing the late king of pop’s death by negligently administering the drug propofol.

Richelle Cooper, an ER doctor at the UCLA Medical Center, told the court that, despite her team working for sometime to resuscitate the singer, “Mr Jackson died long before he became a patient I was personally responsible for”. Her colleague, cardiologist Thao Nguyen, confirmed that efforts to save Jackson once he’d arrived at the hospital were pretty futile, while adding that by this point Murray was pretty frantic, that he “sounded desperate and looked devastated”, and that he pleaded with hospital staff to continue trying to revive his patient.

Lawyers for both sides then questioned Cooper and Nguyen a little about the propofol, both witnesses having confirmed that – as with the paramedics – Murray failed to inform the ER team that he’d given Jackson a shot of the powerful drug that morning. Though Cooper did add that, by the point the singer reached hospital he was already dead, and therefore being informed about the drug would have made little difference.

The prosecution asked Cooper about the more usual use of propofol. She confirmed that when she uses the powerful anaesthetic there will be a doctor and nurse on hand, and that equipment will be used to monitor the patient’s heart and breathing. Paramedics have already confirmed no such equipment was available at Jackson’s home where Murray administered the drug. “Have you ever heard of propofol being used outside of a hospital in someone’s bedroom residence?” enquired Deputy District Attorney David Walgren of Nguyen. The reply: “That would be a first. I never heard of that”.

Speaking for the defence, J Michael Flanagan asked Cooper about the affects a relatively small dose of propofol would have, Murray having only admitted to administering 25mg of the drug. Cooper told the court: “If it did achieve sedation, I would expect if he didn’t have any medical problems, within seven to ten minutes it would probably be worn off”.

It’s believed that question is a forerunner to the excuse Team Murray will use as to why the doctor failed to tell other medics about the drug on the day of Jackson’s death. Of course, the prosecution reckon his silence on the matter was the sign of a guilty conscience, the doctor immediately realising he had acted negligently and trying to cover his tracks. But the defence are now expected to say that Murray had administered such a small shot of propofol, a good hour before Murray found Jackson had stopped breathing, that he believed it was no longer relevant because it would have been “out of his system” by that time.

The Murray defence, of course, will argue that a desperate Jackson must have taken another shot of the drug, possibly orally, while his doctor was out of the room, and that it was that helping of propofol that killed the pop star. Because Murray did not know about this extra shot at the time, the defence will say, he didn’t know to tell paramedics and ER staff about it.

There was, in theory, time for Jackson to help himself to more of the anaesthetic because a rep from Murray’s phone provider was also in court yesterday to testify that the doctor had made and received various phone calls between 10.45am, when it’s believed he administered the propofol, and 11.56am, when he realised Jackson wasn’t breathing. The defence will use that fact to prove Jackson had the opportunity to OD behind his doctor’s back. The prosecution will argue that the fact Murray wasn’t monitoring his patient throughout that time period was, in itself, an act of negligence.

The case continues.



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