The line between doctor and patient can become blurry when that patient is a celebrity. Fame can be a powerful aphrodisiac for some doctors who give in to their patients who want to get their hands on prescription opiates or other potentially dangerous drugs.
Many high-profile celebrities and athletes employ personal physicians as part of their team or entourage. Sometimes, these doctors try too hard to be friends with the celebrity, giving in to whatever demands are made. Some argue that enabling celebrity clients can further their access to the celebrity. If opiate addiction develops, the continual prescribing of medications can serve as a means to stay employed.
Michael Jackson’s Doctor is Prime Example Of Abuse Of Power And Enabling
Case in point: Michael Jackson and Doctor Conrad Murray. After a two-year legal battle, Dr. Murray was found guilty by a Los Angeles County jury of involuntary manslaughter in the pop icon’s death. He was sentenced to four years prison in Jackson’s drug-related death.
Jackson died of acute propofol intoxication. Dr. Murray, Jackson’s personal physician, was found guilty of giving Jackson the fatal dose of the powerful anesthetic, along with other sedatives. During the trial, experts argued that propofol is not indicated for at-home use, showing a pattern of reckless behavior on the doctor’s part. Jackson went into cardiac arrest June 25, 2009 at his California home and was unable to be revived after being taken to UCLA medical center.
Other High-Profile Cases Highlight The Problem Of Doctor-Enabled Celebs
A former LPGA golfer took her own life in 2010 in Henderson, Nevada and her doctor was charged in the case. Erica Blasberg, 25, died of asphyxiation after putting a plastic bag over her head. According to the coroner, her death was complicated by the presence of a prescription drug cocktail in her system. Toxic levels of hydrocodone and tramadol, often used to treat pain, were found in her system.
Codeine, which can suppress a cough and has pain-relieving properties, was also found in the young woman’s body, along with alprazolam, a benzodiazepine. The athlete, who turned pro in 2004, was preparing to leave for an LPGA tour at the time of her death.
Dr. Thomas Hess of Nevada reportedly took a suicide note and prescription medications from the crime scene. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction charge and was sentenced to one year’s probation and community service.
Rap star Eminem hasn’t minced words when it comes to the topic. He told Vibe magazine a few years ago that some doctors go out of their way to keep celebrity patients supplied with prescription drugs “because they love the celebrity.” Eminem is no stranger to addiction and has admitted abusing prescription painkillers and nearly suffered a fatal overdose in 2005.