News Stories

You Could Almost Call it Murder

One time it really was! - Recent questions about the death of Michael Jackson have focused media attention on the commonly used intravenous anesthetic propofol, since an autopsy revealed large amounts of this drug in his body. The doctor who prescribed it wasn't trying to kill him, but researchers have found a case 5 years ago where the drug was used as a murder weapon.

Anesthesiologists have discovered the case of a 24-year-old woman whose 2005 death was attributed to propofol toxicity, and this case the murder WAS intentional. The woman who died had no history of drug abuse and no evidence of such behavior at autopsy. The possibility of suicide was remote because the injection site for the propofol was in the woman's elbow. The medical examiner and police investigators felt that she died from probable homicide. Attention turned to a male registered nurse acquaintance who had acquired propofol in the course of his regular duties in a surgical intensive care unit.

A follow-up investigation of the propofol national drug code lot numbers on the bottles at the crime scene revealed the drug had been obtained from an automated dispenser by a male registered nurse who worked in the surgical intensive care of Shands Hospital at the University of Florida, Gainesville. The most recent propofol had been dispensed to him on November 3, 2005. On or about the day of the woman

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