US Celebrity

May 232012

Appropriate Sentence for Dr. Murray: comparing the trial and ethics of Michael Jackson’s doctor to the trial of Dr. Kevorkian on US Celebrity Blog.

The major news of the day is the verdict in Dr. Conrad Murray’s trial. He’s been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. According to sources – the trial didn’t reach its sentencing stage, yet – it is anticipated that he may face up to 4 years of prison – or a probation – and may have his license to practice medicine suspended. Would any of these be an appropriate sentence for Dr. Murray?…

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson

The jury’s decision has been applauded by Michael Jackson’s family, friends and fans all over the world. Without a doubt, the premature death of the King of Pop was due to medical malpractice or – at the very least – the breach of medical ethics on the part of Dr. Murray.

While millions of people are celebrating this legal victory for Michael Jackson, another trial came to my mind: the trial of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Dr. Kevorkian helped terminally ill patients end their lives: he did it at their explicit and verified request, in essence assisting in their suicides. The patients were terminally ill, prepared to die and have chosen to die at their own terms: at home, surrounded by loved ones, at the time of their own choosing. Dr. Kevorkian was generous enough to assist them in meeting their final objective. For acting as a doctor committed to patients’ well-being and comfort till their last breath; for being HUMANE, compassionate and selfless; for preserving the individuals’ ultimate freedom of choice, Dr. Kevorkian has been sentenced to serve 10-25 years in prison. (He was released on parole after serving 8 years.)

If you compare these two cases, the sentence expected in the trial of Dr. Murray seems painfully inadequate and quite frankly, unjust. After all, to many people – the terminally ill patients whom he’s helped AND their families who are indebted to him – Dr. Kevorkian is – and will always be – a hero: a true, dedicated physician who didn’t hide from his responsibility as a doctor even at the risk of prosecution. (If you are appalled by my tribute to Dr. Kevorkian than you didn’t have the experience of watching a loved one dying “legally” for days and weeks on end….)

Dr. Murray on the other hand, can hardly be considered a physician. Even though his defense found a legal loophole for his “off label” use of Propofol, there is no explanation for his leaving Michael Jackson unmonitored and unattended; for his lack of record-keeping and finally, no excuse for him for not summoning 911 immediately and for not being forthright with emergency medical personnel. As far as I’m concerned he failed miserably as a physician, as Michael Jackson’s “friend” and as a human being.

One would hope that at least in this case, justice will be…. ethical and that the punishment will fit the crime. (It wasn’t – and it didn’t – in the case of Dr. Kevorkian.)  Let’s hope for an appropriate sentence for Dr. Murray!

Just one person’s reflection on the trial of Dr. Murray: something to think about, even if you disagree….