On August 1, USC Sociologist Karen Sternheimer was interviewed on National Public Radio regarding celebrity doctors and the possible peril they pose to those they are entrusted to heal. In the cases of Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith, Hippocrates himself might cringe at what he would see as a breach of the sacred, ethics-based oath that bears his name which doctors are sworn to uphold. Were their physicians so seduced by the lure of celebrity they stroked their patients’ egos in plying them with an overabundance of pharmaceuticals? A fine line is drawn between patient care and endeavoring to remain in the celebrity’s employ and “inner circle”, as well as using that status to build cache in the community and their medical practices.
When sizeable amounts of money and reputations are at stake, can these doctors risk alienating patients by not catering to their every whim? MJ and ANS are neither the first, nor the last celebrity patients of this questionable pursuit of wellness. It was announced MJ’s mother is considering filing a wrongful death suit against Conrad Murray who is already the focus of a manslaughter investigation. This litigation coupled with ANS’s physicians, who are already on the criminal hot seat, is just the beginning of a trend that could have Lady Justice prying open a Pandora’s Box of problems for the medical community.