American Morning

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June 30th, 2009
06:37 AM ET

Doctors and celebrities – Money over ethics?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Michael Jackson rehearses at the Staples Center on June 23, 2009."]

Most of us will never feel the healing hand of a concierge doctor.

A what?

A CONCIERGE doctor. They’re the ones who devote all or most of their time to a single, very wealthy client. Think Michael Jackson.

On June 15, Dr. Conrad Murray wrote a letter to his patients saying he would “cease practice of medicine indefinitely” due to a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” The sound of opportunity knocking was no less than the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson.

Murray had turned to practicing concierge medicine.

It was Murray who as Jackson’s personal doctor was at his side during the moments when the pop star’s life started to slip away last week. And it is Murray who was questioned by police and who is the subject of much unproven speculation about the role of prescription drugs in the death.

Murray’s lawyer, Edward Chernoff, has vigorously denied that his client prescribed the painkillers Dermerol and Oxycontin to Jackson. He described all of that as “rumors”.

Medical ethicists, while not commenting specifically about Murray, take a very cautionary view towards any doctor who devotes all or most of his time to a single patient.

“It can be intoxicating,” says the University of Pennsylvania’s Art Caplan. “When you’re going to hire yourself out as a solo physician, you’re really tempted to say this is really going to be glamour and this is going to be big money. However the problem is it also means a very demanding patient.”

In other words, it’s hard to say no to that kind of patient.

Caplan: “It’s difficult to be a concierge doctor in the sense in which the temptations to try and please your patient are too great. And I think the temptation is not to listen to your peers and not to have someone looking over your shoulder, which I think is the essential check and balance of good medicine. It’s tempting to be out there on your own egotistically saying, I can handle everything. I think that leads to danger.”

Besides the seduction of being near a celebrity, there’s the challenge of not getting to close to the patient.

Referencing a common saying among doctors, NYU Langone School of Medicine Psychiatrist Vatsal Thakkar told CNN, “We should not treat friends, family, or ourselves...It goes back to setting up situations where we might deviate from the type of care that we provide. And you know, if there is a dual relationship, hypothetically in a situation, that could be a complicating factor.”

Filed under: Entertainment • Health
June 30th, 2009
05:19 AM ET

What’s on Tap – Tuesday June 30, 2009

Iraqi soldiers parade to mark the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities and towns across the nation on June 30, 2009, in the city of Karbala, 110 kms south of the capital Baghdad. Getty Images
Iraqi soldiers parade to mark the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities and towns across the nation on June 30, 2009, in the city of Karbala, 110 kms south of the capital Baghdad. Getty Images

Here are the big stories on the agenda today:

  • New pictures and new details emerging about the final days and minutes of Michael Jackson’s life, as the fight for Jackson’s family and fortune begins.  Joe Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton held a rather bizarre news conference yesterday, in which Michael’s father said there will be no funeral until the family sees private autopsy results.  Investigators also returned to Jackson’s rented home, and left with medications.  We're live in Encino, California.
  • Also new information on the sudden death of TV’s most recognizable pitchman, Billy Mays. A medical examiner in Florida said Mays had an enlarged heart and probably had a heart attack in his sleep, so the hit on the head he suffered during a rough plane landing, probably did not kill him.
  • It's not over yet.  An official tells the Associated Press that at least ten more people may be charged with helping Bernie Madoff pull off the biggest rip-off in history.  A judge sentenced the 60 billion dollar con man to 150 years in prison yesterday.
  • Explosions over Iraq this morning, but ones in celebration.  There were fireworks as U.S. forces officially turned over control of cities and towns to Iraqi security forces.  The government has named June 30th "National Sovereignty Day,” but can Iraqi soldiers and police keep the country safe? We're live on the ground in Baghdad.

Filed under: What's On Tap
June 29th, 2009
10:03 PM ET

Fly Clear program shuts down

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN Producer Ben Tinker reports on the sudden shutdown of Clear lanes at U.S. airports."]

From CNN Producer Ben Tinker

Well, it was a novel idea. "Fly through airport security" was their motto.

The Fly Clear program allowed passengers to bypass often-lengthy airport security lines - for a fee, of course. The price of a year's membership was around $200; with about 250,000 members, we're talking about a revenue stream in the ballpark of $50 million.

As a member, you can imagine my surprise when an email popped up on my BlackBerry at 12:52 a.m. last Tuesday, announcing:

"At 11:00pm PST today, Clear will cease operations. Clear's parent company, Verified Identity Pass, INC. has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations. After today, Clear lanes will be unavailable."

It just so happened that I was booked on a flight out of Atlanta Tuesday morning and arrived at the airport late, as usual, only to discover the Clear kiosks had already been shut down. Clearly by "today" the company meant they were shutting down "yesterday," Pacific Time, a mere hour and eight minutes after sending out that email.

I wasn't the only one confused. Along with travelers across the country, I relied on airport employees to explain what had happened and point me in the right direction. Even the majority of news networks, including CNN, didn't really touch the story until Wednesday morning. Clear Lanes abandons customers


Filed under: Technology • Transportation
June 29th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We Listen – Your comments 6/29/09

Editor's Note: Monday’s American Morning audience shared their condolences over Michael Jackson’s death. With suspicion surrounding Jackson’s death, many had questions for the lawyer of Jackson’s doctor.

  • Tim: As MJ's personal house call doctor he was surely aware that MJ was using (possibly abusing) CII narcotics for some time. If his death was indeed due to a narcotic overdose and with the previous information above known, his rapid response kit should have contained a supply of Narcan which would have immediately reversed the narcotic effects he was suffering from (respiratory arrest). Another factor to consider is the AED. Why didn't a high profile MD like him not have one on hand or why wasn't one at MJ's house? These seem so obvious to me being an Paramedic, but didn't phase his doctor one bit I guess.
  • Constance: The attorney for Michael Jackson said he did NOT administer Demerol or Oxycontin but NO ONE has asked about MORPHINE!! Ask the attorney...
  • Christine: Kiran-you should have asked Dr. Murray's attorney when the last time was that the doctor saw MJ alive! And was he complaining of any illness? I have yet to hear anyone speak about the last time that he was actually seen alive...
  • Dennis: What the lawyer for the doctor of M.J stated in his interview does make any sense. I am a paramedic and a CPR and ACLS (Advanced Cardic Life Support) instructor. Did anybody check to see if this doctor has a current CPR card. Everyone in the medical field, even doctors have to renew every two (2) years and ACLS every (1) year. Also if M.J. had a slight pulse, why did the doctor start chest compressions? He should have just done rescue breathing until a pulse was not detectable, and than started chest compressions. Something is wrong!

If you were given the opportunity to speak with the attorney for Jackson’s doctor, what questions would you have for him? Comment here for follow the story.


Filed under: We Listen
June 29th, 2009
01:55 PM ET

Madoff sentenced to 150 years

Financier Bernard Madoff leaves Manhattan Federal court March 10, 2009 in New York City. Getty Images/FILE
Financier Bernard Madoff leaves Manhattan Federal court March 10, 2009 in New York City. Getty Images/FILE

NEW YORK ( - A federal judge sentenced Bernard Madoff, the convicted mastermind of the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme ever, to the maximum sentence of 150 years in federal court Monday.

Judge Denny Chin of U.S. District Court in New York announced the sentence just moments after Madoff apologized to his victims.

Chin, who called Madoff's crimes "extraordinarily evil," said the maximum sentence was important for deterrence, and also for the victims, many of whom erupted into applause after the judge announced the sentence. Many hugged and some of them broke down in tears.

Shortly before he received his sentence, Madoff offered an apology.

"I live in a tormented state for all the pain and suffering I created," he said. "I left a legacy of shame. It is something I will live with for the rest of my life."

Turning to face some of his victims, Madoff addressed them directly: "Saying I'm sorry is not enough. I turn to face you. I know it will not help. I'm sorry."

Keep reading this story »

Filed under: Crime
June 29th, 2009
11:01 AM ET

Victims: Life term for Madoff

Bernard Madoff will step into a federal courtroom Monday morning to hear his sentence for running what appears to have been the biggest investment fraud in history.

Allan Chernoff has been covering the Madoff scandal from the start and reports victims who lost virtually everything to Madoff want the court to show no mercy.

Filed under: Crime
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