Jackson would be alive if not for Conrad Murray, expert says
A cardiologist who reviewed Dr. Conrad Murray’s care of Michael Jackson for the California Medical Board testified Wednesday that the physician’s treatment was riddled with egregious deviations from standard of care that contributed directly to the singer’s death.
Alon Steinberg, a Ventura County cardiologist and medical board reviewer, told jurors at Murray’s involuntary manslaughter trial that even if Jackson had given himself the anesthetic that caused his death, the doctor would be just as guilty of giving substandard care. Murray’s attorneys have contended the singer gave himself the anesthetic propofol and a second sedative while his doctor wasn’t looking, killing himself instantly.
“We don’t give opportunity for a patient to self-administer,” Steinberg said.
“When you monitor a patient, you never leave their side, especially after giving propofol. It’s like leaving a baby that’s sleeping on your kitchen countertop,” he testified.
Steinberg rattled off a long list of factors that led him to conclude that Murray’s actions were an extreme departure from standard of care — treating insomnia with a surgical anesthetic, administering propofol without the necessary monitoring equipment, delaying calling 911 and making ineffective resuscitation efforts once Jackson had stopped breathing.
“It’s basic knowledge in America, you don’t have to be a healthcare professional, that when someone is down you need to call 911 for help,” Steinberg told jurors.
The doctor delayed calling for emergency help for at least 20 minutes when paramedics were only four minutes away, he noted.
“Every minute counts?” Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren asked.
"Every minute counts,” Steinberg responded.
Steinberg said were it not for the deviations in standard of care, Jackson would have lived.
Murray has been stripped of his license to practice in California.
Also on Wednesday, an attorney representing Murray told the judge that despite indications at earlier hearings, the doctor’s defense had reached the conclusion that propofol would not have an effect if taken orally and would not be making the argument that the singer might have drank the anesthetic.
“We are not going to assert at any point in time in this trial that Michael Jackson orally ingested propofol,” attorney Michael Flanagan said.
— Victoria Kim
Photo: Dr. Conrad Murray in court Tuesday. Credit: Robyn Beck / Pool