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Investigators subpoena records from Michael Jackson's dermatologist

July 14, 2009 |  2:03 pm

Los Angeles coroner's investigators probing the death of Michael Jackson served a second subpoena today on the offices of Dr. Arnold Klein, the pop star’s longtime dermatologist, officials said.

Craig Harvey, chief of operations for the coroner’s office, said the subpoena was served at Klein's Beverly Hills dermatology office in an effort to obtain "additional medical records."

Harvey said his investigators had previously served a subpoena on Klein but would not elaborate on the nature of the records that were provided or what additional information led to the subpoena.

The move was the latest action by authorities as they attempt to recreate Jackson’s medical history and focus on five doctors who most often treated the pop star or prescribed him medication.

The coroner's office has requested and subpoenaed medical files and records from a number of doctors who treated the singer. That is in addition to at least three search warrants issued as part of a Los Angeles Police Department probe into whether prescription drugs played a role in Jackson's death.

A lawyer for Klein said last week that investigators had not sought to question the dermatologist.  Detectives did spend three hours quizzing Dr. Conrad Murray, the Las Vegas cardiologist who was with the performer June 25 when he stopped breathing. In a statement, Murray’s lawyer said today that his client knew nothing about the treatment Klein provided Jackson.

“Never met him, never had any contact with him and he never communicated with him about Michael Jackson,” Ed Chernoff said.

Authorities have identified some of Jackson's doctors from the medications and other medical evidence they recovered from the Holmby Hills mansion where Jackson was stricken about two weeks ago, according to sources familiar with the investigation. But those sources said that some of the medications lacked prescription labels and that officials were trying to determine how Jackson got them.

A longtime Jackson associate, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because of the investigation, said the pop star had little trouble finding doctors eager to treat him -- and prescribe him drugs.

Experts said the task before detectives and coroner's investigators amounts to a medical jigsaw puzzle. They must get a strong handle on his medical status at the time of his death, including preexisting conditions, previous medical procedures and his drug-use history -- things that can be gleaned through many of the records requested and subpoenaed.

After gathering information about what was prescribed and in what quantity, investigators with medical training look at the patient's history, the possible reasons each drug was prescribed, the side effects and the interactions with other medications. Investigators must also cross-reference files to try to recreate what a physician knew at the time he or she wrote a prescription.

Coroner officials said in many cases that doctors hand over the records, but in some cases they ask for a subpoena before turning over records.

Authorities have maintained that it's too early to know whether any crimes have been committed and that much depends on the official cause of death pending the toxicology tests.

While officials are awaiting the results of toxicology tests conducted by the coroner's office the day after Jackson's death, they warn that those tests may not answer all the questions. For example, sources have told The Times that detectives found large amounts of the powerful anesthetic Propofol at Jackson's home. 

It's an extremely potent drug that is supposed to be dispensed by a person trained to administer anesthesia.

In an interview with Larry King last week, Klein said that Jackson was using Diprivan "when he was on tour in Germany." It's unclear exactly when that was, but the last time Jackson was on tour in Germany was 1997.

Klein said that Jackson "was using it, with an anesthesiologist, to go to sleep at night. And I told him he was absolutely insane."

-- Richard Winton, Andrew Blankstein and Harriet Ryan

More coverage: www.latimes.com/michaeljackson