The preliminary hearing in the trial of Dr Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s doctor is proving to be very enlightening.
Those familiar with clinical negligence work will recognise the legal arguments deployed. The Los Angeles County coroner's office has ruled the singer died from an overdose of the surgical anaesthetic propofol, found in his body along with a cocktail of other sedatives.
Prosecutors allege that Dr Murray's negligent treatment contributed to Jackson's death. Dr Murray’s defence seems to be that (a) he was only following the orders of Michael Jackson in giving propofol or (b) the singer took some additional sedatives that tipped him into a coma and death.
The blaming of the victim is a familiar defence to Claimant Clinical Negligence lawyers. The idea that Jackson would have been as educated as Dr Murray as out the effects of propofol must be nonsense. Equally, as Jackson’s personal doctor, on a retainer of $150,000 per month, one would also expect that Dr. Murray would have or should have had complete 24 hour supervision of Michael Jackson’s medication as the singer prepared himself for a gruelling string of live performances at the O2 centre in London.
In cases such as this the UK courts take the view that the medical professional has to take full responsibility for anything that goes wrong and Defendant’s arguments blaming the injured party for an adverse event usually don’t succeed.
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