Should Conrad Murray be allowed to practice medicine again?

Before Michael Jackson, most folks didn’t know what propofol was. Now, patients are asking me for it by name. It’s an awesome drug. It provides a beautiful sedation, is extremely safe and rapidly clears after the procedure. Under its effects, colonoscopy has become a sublime experience.

We administer it in a different manner than Conrad Murray did. For those who may have just awakened from a 5 year coma, Conrad Murray was Michael Jackson’s personal physician who administered propofol to Jackson in his home to promote sleep. Murray succeeded and received the modest salary of $150,000 per month for his medical services.

Administering propofol in a patient’s home without necessary monitoring and training is an egregious breach of standard medical practice. Those of us who use the drug properly were shocked to learn of this doctor’s reckless and indefensible care. Here are a few hypothetical examples of similarly negligent care.

A surgeon removing your appendix in the back seat of your car.

A psychiatrist hanging up on a patient who is threatening suicide.

An internist invites recovering alcoholic patients to a wine tasting event.

Murray will be released this month after serving time for involuntary manslaughter. At present, he does not have a valid license to practice medicine, but hopes to be reinstituted into the profession.

Should he be barred from medicine for life? I believe that the depth of his negligence warrants expulsion from the profession.

If fact, if his conduct doesn’t result in permanent loss of a medical license, then what would?

Is there a different outcome that would allow this man to use his medical skills and serve the greater good? What if he were given a medical license with stringent restrictions and strict oversight? If he were required, for example, to practice in an underserved community and was tightly supervised by a physician, would we support this outcome?

I have my own view here, but I’d like to know yours.

Michael Kirsch is a gastroenterologist who blogs at MD Whistleblower

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  • PrimaryCareDoc

    He should not get his license back. In addition to his highly negligent care, he has proven that he will do anything he is asked to do as long as the price is right.

  • Deceased MD

    To be sure, anything seems possible with the Boards and practicing in a different state after losing a license seems common place. But Conrad Murray is now a well known name. My guess is that he will either move out of the country and practice overseas, or change his job completely. You never know, this is the land of opportunity, so he may end up on tv selling his story for 5 minutes of fame. Obviously he lacks judgment and should not be practicing medicine but these are strange times. so who knows…

  • Hal E Peno

    Make way for the next Dr. Phil…

  • Jason Simpson

    If any medical board in the country gives this man a license, it would be an OUTRAGE. The governor of such state should remove the persons from the medical board if they were to take such an outrageous step.

    Of course, Conrad Murray has lawyers too. They will threaten to sue the board unless they grant him a license. This is going to be a nasty, nasty legal affair.

    • querywoman

      You think he has the money left to pay a decent lawyer?
      He better stay with his current girlfriend, even though so far as I know, he still also has a wife. I don’t think he can afford $5000 lap dances at a strip joint anymore.

  • Claire

    NO!!! Next question.
    . . .love the part about the internist inviting recovering alcoholics to a wine tasting event. . love a doc with a sense of humor!

  • Suzi Q 38

    Since he is being tried in California, the board here will probably allow him to practice again. After all, they rarely discipline doctors who make errors routinely. If he is not allowed to practice medicine, his lawyer will probably argue that other doctors have made similar or worse errors and are still practicing… isn’t right, but the lawyer would have a point.

    Your examples are amusing. I have read about doctors who did far worse and still kept their licenses.

  • MKirschMD

    I think it will be challenging, even in California, to find examples of MDs who have done worse and yet retained their licenses or had them restored.

  • heartdoc345

    I bet he was actually committing assisted suicide but MJ’s family didnt know that thus the outrage. Just my two cents.

  • Mark S.B.

    Don’t be surprised if he gets his medical license back. This is his first offense and I’ve heard of worse things happening and the doctor get his license back. If it would have been any other person other than MJ would it had made a difference.

  • querywoman

    I’ll never believe colonoscopy can be a sublime experience.

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