In the last month, the world lost two iconic figures: Michael Jackson and Senator Edward Kennedy. The King of Pop and the Lion of the Senate, both these beloved figures left behind a message that has at its core, wisdom for those in the healthcare field. Follow me over the fold to discuss the thread that ties these two stories together.
Senator Ted Kennedy was a staunch proponent of healthcare reform and spent his lifetime of service in the US Senate in pursuit of the goal of an American universal healthcare system. If the current legislation under consideration makes it through the process with a robust public option offering affordable coverage to all Americans, then Senator Kennedy’s life’s work will have been properly commemorated. Michael Jackson was an inspiration to music fans on all seven continents and his work touched millions. While he brought so much joy to so many, it was clear that – as is often the case with the most sensitive and talented artists – he suffered with deep emotional troubles and dealt with these issues through substance abuse. His untimely demise, the likely result of the powerful operating room anesthetic that he had been using as a sleeping aid, is a reminder to us of the place of ethics in the administration of medical counsel and treatment. That the LA coroner’s office has ruled Jackson’s death a homicide speaks to the failure of his medical advisors to take a principled stand in the face of their patient who, although one of the entertainment industry’s most powerful people, was pressuring his doctors to further enable his dangerous addiction. This ethical lapse on the part of Jackson’s doctors likely cost the star his life. So as a nation mourns the loss of the Lion and the King, let’s take a moment to learn the lessons these lives have to offer.