Published July 01, 2009
Michael Jackson's cardiologist has had his share of financial woes, but his former patients say he is a "loving soul" who stressed holistic living instead of narcotics and painkillers.
Donna DiGiacomo, 51, of Las Vegas, said Dr. Conrad Murray implanted two stents into her right coronary arteries in May and then made two follow-up visits at Global Cardiovascular Associates in Las Vegas, including one in which he told her he could no longer be her cardiologist.
"I was crying actually because I didn't want him to leave," DiGiacomo told FOXNews.com. "He said he was going to London, but I didn't know why. … I love the man, there's nothing bad I can say about him. I wish all my doctors were like him."
DiGiacomo said Murray prescribed drugs for her high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but he steered clear of pain medications.
"He is more into eating healthy, watching your weight, exercise," she said. "[Murray was] very into a holistic approach. I get the impression if he could practice medicine without any drugs, that's what he would do."
Murray, who was hired to accompany Jackson on his planned series of 50 concerts in London this summer, has cooperated with investigators and is considered a witness to Jackson's death, according to Miranda Sevcik, a spokeswoman for Edward Chernoff, one of Murray's attorneys.
"They do not consider him a suspect," Sevcik told FOXNews.com. "They consider him a witness."
Police said he "provided information which will aid the investigation."
Murray has not been without financial woes. A total of $435,000 in legal judgments were filed against him or Global Cardiovascular Associates last year, according to the Los Angeles Times. Five tax liens were also filed against him between 1993 and 2003, amounting to more than $44,600, county records show, and in 1992, Murray filed for bankruptcy in California.
Murray has no history of discipline in the three states in which he's licensed to practice — California, Nevada and Texas. But his former partner at the Armstrong Medical Clinic in Houston, Dr. Davill Armstrong, has a checkered history of malpractice claims, many involving the illegal prescription of medications and controlled substances, and he is currently not allowed to practice medicine.
The doctors both list the same address for their Houston medical practice, according to Texas Medical Board records.
In 2004, Armstrong was disciplined by the state medical board for an incident two years earlier in which, the board determined, Armstrong had violated the standard of care by prescribing the drugs Albuterol and Dilantin without properly diagnosing that a 12-year-old patient had suffered from seizures in the first place, according to records.
And in 2006, the medical board found that Armstrong again had violated standard of care by not comprehensively treating 15 patients and for failing to evaluate those patients for acute medical conditions.
Armstrong’s license was suspended, but while on suspension, Armstrong hired other doctors to work at his practice. On one occasion, Armstrong’s wife — a medical technician not licensed to prescribe medication — wrote out prescriptions for Keflex using her husband’s prescription pad. She also gave an injection of an antibiotic call Rocephin.
Armstrong's license was removed from suspicion in May, so he could enroll in the education classes ordered by the disciplinary board, but he cannot practice medicine.
Armstrong did not return calls for comment.
Meanwhile, other patients formerly treated by Murray echoed DiGiacomo's sentiments, praising Murray's gentle approach and his insistence on prescribing only ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
"One time I told him, 'If you don't give me something for this pain, I'm checking out,' because he did not believe in giving drugs," Mary Webb told ABC13 in Las Vegas. "He did not."
Webb told ABC13 she last visited Murray in April for coronary artery disease, and Murray put five stents in her arteries.
"That is a damn good doctor," Webb told the station. "I don't care what nobody says. He's a damn good doctor."
Ruby Mosley, of Houston, credits Murray with saving her life when he discovered two blockages in her heart.
"If I had to rate Dr. Conrad Murray from one to a hundred," Mosley told KHOU-TV in Houston, "I'd give him every bit of a hundred."