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Michael Jackson and Propofol Safety

Posted Jul 28 2009 12:00am

Now that Dr Conrad Murray has reportedly admitted to giving Michael Jackson Propofol in his home,we need to dispel a few rumors:

Propofol is safe when given in an operating room. It is very commonly used in outpatient anesthesia as it has the benefit of wearing off quickly. It is very potent and needs to be given under the proper conditions.

An IV drip of Propofol allows a constant, steady infusion of the drug for a period of time determined by the person administering it.

It is considered reckless in the medical community for a doctor to administer an IV drip of Propofol without the patient being monitored by an EKG, which sounds an alarm when the patient’s pulse drops too low. No EKG was found in the house.

Another device known as a pulse oximeter is used to determine the oxygen saturation in the patient’s blood. If the patient’s breathing slows to a dangerous level, an alarm alerts the treating physician. Again, no oximeter was found in the house.

I would add that more equipment to support and monitor breathing should also be there as a minimum.

Last week I did a case in which the patient received Propofol and was worried. Of course there was no problem because it was administered by an anesthesiologist under the proper conditions.

Propofol is not approved for home use.

The real shame about this is that Jackson had the resources to put the proper equipment and expertise together and although Propofol is not a sleep medication, he probably could have had it safely administered.

Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD

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