Jackson's doctor was an indulgent 'employee'

Jackson's doctor was an indulgent 'employee'

Anesthesiologist Steven Shafer took the stand for the prosecution after a nearly week-long break in the trial of Conrad Murray, who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter over the King of Pop’s death at age 50.

Murray is accused of giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol while trying to help him sleep. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

“The facts, in this case, in my view, suggest that virtually none of the safeguards for sedation were in place when propofol was administered to Michael Jackson,” said Shafer, an expert on the drug.

The forensic toxicology report two years ago found the cause of death to be acute intoxication of propofol, but also noted the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam was in the singer’s system.

“Egregious”, “unconscionable”, “inconceivable”, “inexcusable” — Shafer did not pull punches as he described what he called Murray’s professional errors on the day of Jackson’s death and in the months leading up to it.

One of those mistakes, according to Shafer, was to cede to every request made by Jackson, who was paying Murray $150,000 a month.

“Jackson wanted propofol every night to go to sleep and Murray said ‘yes’. That is what an employee does... he’s not exercising his medical judgment,” Shafer said. “A doctor would have said, ‘I’m not giving anything to you, you have a sleeping disorder’.”

“The relationship between a doctor and his patient is hallowed,” he said, adding that Murray “was not putting Michael Jackson first”.

When asked by prosecutors about the amount of propofol Murray had bought — 15.5 litres — Shafer said it was an “extraordinary amount of drug to purchase for a single individual”.
He also enumerated what he said was an “enormous” list of mistakes, citing the lack of respiratory monitors, a device to control the propofol drip and blood pressure monitors.

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