Today Michael Jackson’s death was declared a homicide.
Now I’m not jumping on the Michael-Jackson-good-guy-or-bad-guy opinion train. He was one heck of a performer, and that’s good enough for me. There’s a lot of grey in everything else about his life and I don’t know near enough to give a public opinion about that. But the whole thing brings up another, probably far more important issue:What about the culpability of doctors, (and other professions) in the treatment of their clients?
There’s going to be a lot of speculation and debate about whether or not Michael Jackson’s personal doctor, as well as several other physicians, may be on the hook for overprescribing, overmedicating and even allegedly administering the drugs that killed Jackson. The question becomes, if Michael Jackson willingly and knowingly took these medications, which would seem to be the case, then can any doctor be held liable for the consequences of these actions?
For me, the answer to this question is yes. Put towards a different profession - my own - the question becomes: Is a helping professional liable if they actively contribute and participate in someone’s downward slide? Yes. absolutely. If I am the counsellor of an alcoholic and we happen to be in a bar together and I buy him a drink, I am acting unethically. If I am the counsellor to the stars and I am afraid to say the things that will help them for fear of causing their anger, or perhaps even being released from my job, I am acting unethically. Usually the people around you that really love you are the ones who will tell you what you need to hear – whether you want to or not. Perhaps Michael Jackson needed a few more of those kind of people around him. Perhaps we all do. And when those people around us speak their mind, we need to make a point of listening to them rather than banishing them from our lives.
Many will see the medical professionals as blameless, many as guilty – whether charges are laid or not. It’s my opinion that regardless of guilt or innocence in this situation, it’s a good time for everyone to take a look at their own ethics and have a think about whether our actions are ethical or unethical. And if we decide they are ethical, then we need to take it one step further, and ask ourselves: “Are they helpful as well?”