July 4, 2009
And so my rant continues. As more details emerge regarding Michael Jackson’s untimely and unnecessary demise, (see The Huffington Post, Propofol: Dangerous Anesthesia Drug Found in Jackson’s Home) the hotter I get under the collar. Allegedly an anesthesiologist was “bringing him down every night” during the History Tour back in 1997 with a potent anesthetic because Jackson had a problem falling asleep. Another ethically-challenged physician has struck again.
Diprivan is an anesthetic used to put people in a state of unconsciousness, during surgery ONLY. It is never, never, never used outside of a hospital setting or operating room and requires intense monitoring of patients. Attention all of you wanna-be celebrities out there, please do not get any bright ideas. And if you find a rogue physician who will administer Diprivan to you, then get your affairs in order.
It’s an open secret that very few physicians or nurses will select general anesthesia if confronted with having a surgical procedure. Most of us will choose an epidural or regional anesthesia instead. Anyone who is remotely connected to medicine knows that the most common and deadly complications of a surgical procedure is not the surgery itself, but general anesthesia. Medical school 101. I’ve had three surgical procedures in my life and only once did I require general anesthesia. I argued with the ophthalmologist up until the day before my procedure and then did a background check on the anesthesiologist prior to him putting me to sleep that would have made the FBI proud.
So, here’s the public service announcement: medication in the wrong hands is deadly. When Michael Jackson was put to sleep, he left us to wake up confronting a nightmare.
June 30, 2009
There should be a litmus test for ethics and integrity so that the landscape of our country could look vastly different. There would be no healthcare crisis, no financial collapse, no housing foreclosures or unnecessary deaths because of pain medication addiction. The misfits seeking positions of power would be duly eliminated before they created havoc.
The death of Michael Jackson documented an ever expanding reality that gives me great pain: some doctors will do anything for the pursuit of money, even at the expense of human life.
During the course of my medical career, I have witnessed and have had to report colleagues who have crossed the line for the sake of their bank accounts. The colleague who supplied his cocaine habit by doing unnecessary surgery and fraudulent Medicaid billing. The physician who paid his cronies on a per-patient-basis and turned a public funded healthcare facility into a money making factory. The “deals” made by colleagues that violate conflicts of interests. Hippocrates is probably rolling over in his grave.
I will not write fictitious sick notes, fraudulent disability claims, fill prescriptions for people without a medical chart and am fiercely protective of my DEA license. My medical degree is not for sale. There are times when I have not been the most popular physician among my colleagues but at least I can sleep at night. I wonder if the physicians of Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson can do the same.
The seduction of money comes with a heavy price. Just ask Michael Millikan, Ivan Boesky, or perhaps, the clients of Bernie Madoff. Dr. Deepak Chopra had the courage to say “no” to Michael Jackson, despite his celebrity. I only wish more of my colleagues would have the decency to do the same.