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Cardiologist says Michael Jackson's doctor was unfit to save him

Michael JacksonAEGMichael Jackson Comeback Tour (2009)Heart DiseaseConrad Murray

A cardiologist testified Tuesday that Michael Jackson's doctor gave his famous patient incorrect treatment when he noticed the singer had stopped breathing as a result of a powerful anesthetic the physician had administered.

Dr. Daniel Wohlgelernter, who has taught at Yale and UCLA and practices in Santa Monica, said that Dr. Conrad Murray used chest compressions when he saw that Jackson was in distress, rather than focusing on getting his breathing restarted.

Jackson died after Murray administered a fatal dose of propofol, a drug usually used in medical settings and most often administered to patients undergoing surgery.

FULL COVERAGE: AEG wrongful death trial

The testimony comes in the second week of a wrongful death trial in which Jackson’s mother and his three children are suing concert promoter AEG. The family contends AEG hired and supervised Murray.

Wohlgelernter said Murray did not have the appropriate training to serve as Jackson's physician for the "This Is It" tour, which was expected to relaunch the pop star’s career.

Instead of a cardiologist like Murray, the expert witness said that Jackson needed a doctor who was trained in addiction medicine, substance abuse and sleep disorders.

PHOTOS: Jackson-AEG wrongful death case

Since Jackson had no evidence of heart disease, Murray was not an appropriate choice to treat him, the witness said.

Wohlgelernter called Murray's treating of Jackson “a mismatch. It’s not what he needs.”

Wohlgelernter said Jackson "was not fit and competent in so far as he administered medications he was not trained and credentialed to administer and administered them in a whole unsatisfactory environment."

Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson the anesthetic propofol at the singer's Holmby Hills mansion to treat the singer's insomnia. He’s now serving a jail sentence.

Wohlgelernter testified that propofol should be given only in a hospital setting and administered by an anesthesiologist because there is a risk the patient can stop breathing.

Cardiologists, like Murray, “are not competent to administer propofol,” he said.

Jackson's family contends Murray was in a deep financial hole and would do nearly anything to ensure he would receive his $150,000 a month salary for treating Jackson.

AEG says that Jackson chose Murray as his doctor and payments the company was supposed to make to him were an advance to the singer.

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jeff.gottlieb@latimes.com

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