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“Saying yes is not what doctors do”: Murray trial update

By | Published on Thursday 20 October 2011

Conrad Murray

After a three day break, partly because a key expert’s father died, partly because the defence wanted to investigate new tests on the contents of Michael Jackson’s stomach when he died, the Conrad Murray trial resumed yesterday.

Murray is accused of causing Jackson’s death by negligently administering the drug propofol. And yesterday the prosecution’s final witness, a leading expert on the drug that killed the late king of pop, spoke in no uncertain terms about just how negligent – in his opinion – Murray had been.

Dr Steven Shafer of Columbia University told jurors more about the surgical anaesthetic propofol, and showed them a video listing various safety measures usually used when administering the drug, none of which Murray employed when giving Jackson the drug in his home. According to the Telegraph, Shafer told the court: “The worst disasters occur in sedation and they occur when people cut corners – [and this case] virtually none of the safeguards were in place”.

Shafer said the amount of propofol Murray bought for Jackson was an “extraordinary amount” to give to just one person, that the lack of medical equipment on hand to monitor the patient was incredibly risky, and the fact that Murray had failed to properly document his administration of the powerful drug was an “unconscionable violation” of Jackson’s rights.

Murray, of course, insists that Jackson was already using the drug as a cure for insomnia when he was hired by AEG Live to be the singer’s personal physician, and that he was trying to wean his patient off it. But Shafer said that was no excuse. A doctor is not a supplier bound to give his or her client everything that is requested the professor added, concluding: “Saying yes is not what doctors do – a competent doctor would know you do not do this”.

The defence contends that Jackson self-administered the fatal shot of propofol, but various prosecution witnesses have testified that this theory seems unlikely, and even if it was the case the doctor would still be liable, because various other negligent acts – not least giving Jackson access to the drug – were also directly linked to the singer’s demise.

Shafter’s testimony will finish later today, with the defence expected to start their arguments tomorrow. They will call fifteen witnesses, including police, character witnesses and AEG Live exec Randy Phillips.