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Does Anyone Know CPR?
The Four Words Your Doctor Should Never Say

By Moshe M. Lewis, MD, MPH

It is not a surprise to any medical professional that Dr. Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter given all of the inadequacies he had a physician and heart specialist.

Moshe M. Lewis, MD, MPH When Michael Jackson's heart stopped under the strain of the drug propofol, his personal physician, cardiologist Murray Conrad, is reported to have asked if anyone else present in the pop singer's bedroom knew CPR. These are the last words any physician should utter during a life and death situation such as this. Dr. Murray, himself a cardiologist for more than twenty years was standing right there and should have already have begun CPR himself, a basic skill for any physician.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR consists of administering chest compressions, and sometimes mouth to mouth airway breaths, and is performed thousands of times a day by doctors, paramedics and other first responders in hospitals, offices, homes and shopping malls across America. CPR is a skill that physicians should know. In fact CPR is considered so important in saving lives that aspiring physicians are often taught how to perform CPR in their very first week of medical school, because CPR saves lives.

Beyond that, many physicians receive additional CPR training in residency, oftentimes in skills labs, in addition to hands-on experience using CPR to save actual patients during their training. Physicians in training work long hours during their residencies and oftentimes after 6 or 7pm at night, they are the only physician in the hospital, except for perhaps an ER physician, should a patient stop breathing. Moreover, many hospitals require that physicians carry current CPR certification as a condition of maintaining their hospital privileges.

As a doctor, one is likely to be in many settings where they are going to be the most skilled medical person, if not the only person able to render aid. If a doctor is traveling on an airplane they are probably going to be the only physician out of 300 people on the flight. One of my colleague's, Dr. Claudio Palma recently saved a woman's life when she collapsed after a marathon. It gained national attention since he was dressed as Elvis at the time, for his wedding nuptials. I even found myself in this situation twice while attending church. "It was a gratifying experience to be in church and apply the skills from my medical training to prevent my fellow parishioner from literally 'going to God' as the patient survived".

In Michael Jackson's particular case whatever resuscitative experiences Dr. Murray may have gained from outpatient procedures, it was not enough. He either didn't know CPR or panicked and could not immediately apply his skills to Michael Jackson in the critical moments immediately after the King of Pop's heart stopped. While a faster resuscitation response time would have been no guarantee that Michael Jackson would have survived, it would have at least given him a better chance to pull through and make it to his "This is It Tour". Let's make sure that all cardiologists at least know CPR as this is one of the few skills that can really save a life.

For more information on Doctor Lewis, visit To contact the doctor, call 650-366-4585.
Hollywood, CA

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