Did Michael Jackson take a dangerous anesthetic before he died?

There are several reports that Michael Jackson requested a dangerous anesthesia medication, Propofol (brand name Diprivan) for insomnia. Cherilyn Lee, a registered nurse and nutritional counselor, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Jackson repeatedly asked her for the drug but she denied his requests. However, there are reports that Propofol was one of the medications taken from Michael Jackson’s home by LA police as part of the investigation into his death.

Propofol  is an intravenous (injected into a vein) sedative-hypnotic medication used to sedate patients as they are being put under anesthesia. It is frequently used during outpatient surgical or diagnostic procedures, such as a colonoscopy, and inpatient procedures. It is a safe drug when used in the proper settings, and with the proper monitoring of a patient, usually by an anesthesiologist. Patients must be attached to a heart rate monitor, to watch the heart rate, and to what is called a pulse oximeter, to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. Resuscitation equipment must be nearby. There is no indication for Propfol’s use for insomnia.

If Michael Jackson did indeed use this medication, especially if combined with other alleged pain medications, under less than adequate monitoring conditions, this could be a deadly combination. The toxicology report will be able to tell us whether this was the cause of his death.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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