Information for Clinicians

Statement by FSA on the Dangers of Propofol in the Wrong Hands

The Florida Society of Anesthesiologists (FSA) urges members of the public to be aware of the potentially dangerous effects of the drug propofol, marketed under the name Diprivan, when administered by an untrained individual. This is the drug media reports say may have been used by Michael Jackson to induce sleep, but instead, the reports indicate, may have contributed to his untimely death.

Propofol is a powerful drug that can be fatal if it is not administered under the supervision of a physician trained in general anesthesia as required in the prescribing information. In Florida, there have been several unfortunate propofol related deaths prompting stricter regulations. Our efforts to insure patient safety have included:

  • Support of stricter office surgery regulations that have cut the accident rate dramatically.
  • Lobbying for a prescription monitoring law just signed by Governor Charlie Crist to assist in tracking and preventing misuse of drugs.
  • Advocating for Florida Board of Nursing rules regarding what sedation can be administered by nurses.

In fact, on July 2nd, the Florida Board of Nursing, after a joint effort by FSA and the Florida Association of Nurse anesthetists, published a proposed conscious sedation rule that limits registered nurses from administering propofol unless the patient is “continuously monitored and mechanically ventilated with a secured, artificial airway.” The board also resisted efforts by the company Ethicon to allow registered nurses to administer this drug using their SEDASYS device, which is not yet FDA approved.

WE URGE ALL INVOLVED WITH THE USE OF THIS MEDICATION TO ADHERE TO THE STRICTEST OF PATIENT SAFEGUARDS.

We must emphasize that we don’t know at this point what caused Mr.
Jackson’s death, however we do believe that the questions raised in the news media compel us to send the above warning about the drug to the public.

“The public must be aware of the dangerous side effects of drugs that are otherwise useful when properly administered,” says Michael Lewis, MD, FSA President. “We will continue to support actions by the Florida Legislature and regulatory agencies to reduce the number of unnecessary deaths of Floridians. For FSA, patient safety is our number one priority.”