It may seem silly to think that the King of Pop and your grandmother have anything in common, but they actually might. Recently, we recognized the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson's untimely death. But in the past year we also learned more about his life and those that were entrusted for his care and well-being.
Criminal charges were brought against his personal physician, Conrad Murray, and multiple civil lawsuits have been filed. We may never know what took place in those last hours before he passed but we do know that he suffered for years from arthritis, side effects from past surgeries and treatments, emotional trauma as a result of his childhood, and drug addiction. In fact, upon death we learned that Mr. Jackson had multiple physicians and was prescribed drugs and treatments in the name of various aliases.
Despite Jackson's fame, or perhaps because of his celebrity, those around him did not ask enough or the right questions and therefore he lacked "coordinated care." Had his personal physician had all of the information available to him it's possible that he may have made different decisions in the days and hours that led to the administration of the drug that caused his death.
As a certified geriatric care manager, one of the most important things I ask new clients is if they have a primary care physician and, if so, if he or she is the sole prescriber of all medications. Without such a "gate keeper" there is the possibility of duplication of or interaction between both prescribed and over-the-counter medications.
When multiple specialists are involved in a patient's care it may be difficult for the primary care physician to handle this responsibility. So at a minimum I always try to suggest that all medications are filled at and purchased from the same pharmacy. In addition, I recommend that clients keep a list of all of their medications, including dosage instructions, that they provide this list to all of their physicians and health care proxies, and that they keep it in their wallet and post it in a prominent place in their homes for the benefit of first responders.