Could Telemedicine or a Concierge Physician Have Saved Prince’s Life?

April 30th, 2016

E3JAT6 prince,under the cherry moon,1986

Could Telemedicine

or a Concierge Physician

Have Saved Prince’s Life?

Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway

 

The untimely death of Prince, gives us all reason to pause and the physician in me wonders if his life could have been saved. No, not by some heroic CPR in the elevator where he was found unresponsive but during that emergency stopover in Illinois.

Prince’s private jet allegedly stopped over in Moline, Illinois at 1:00 a.m. because Prince felt ill and was battling the “flue.” From media reports, it appears that he was hospitalized but signed out against medical advice; the hospital could not provide a private room. If Prince had a personal physician who performed “virtual” visits, also known as telemedicine, that physician might have been able to a locate hospital a nearby hospital that could provide a private room and the level of care that Prince needed. He should have been transferred to another hospital, not allowed to go home “against medical advice.” Although Prince performed onstage a few days later in Atlanta, his untimely death six days after that hospital stay speaks volumes. Prince was obviously sick.

No one will argue that a man who sold over 100 million songs and had the ability to touch people’s hearts is important. That ability was a sacred gift that should have been preserved at all costs. A man of that stature should have traveled with his private physician or at least, have access to his private physician through technology. Of course, I wouldn’t want him to have a physician like Dr. Conrad Murray, the former physician of Michael Jackson. We all know how that story ended.

We live in an age where physicians and healthcare providers can do amazing things through technology. Take blood pressures and listen to heart sounds remotely. Obtain a history from a patient via video conferencing. Can we perform an actual physical exam? No, but we can provide consultations regarding a problem, prescribe treatment and sometimes be a patient’s advocate. Prince needed one on the day that he left that hospital in Moline, Illinois. Lord knows he was a good-looking man, but he was also a man who had a hip replacement in 2010 and like most of us, had an aging body.

Access to healthcare is critical no matter what our station is in life. Prince could have easily afforded a concierge physician who he could access via telemedicine or accompany him on his jet plane. I’m going to make a bold statement: I strongly recommend that our aging icons from the Boomer Generation think outside of the box and either travel with their physicians or use telemedicine services. If Prince were my patient, there is no way he would have left that hospital until he was medically cleared to do so.

I’m not going to speculate about how Prince died. His autopsy will speak for itself. I’d rather talk about how he lived and the people that he touched including me. When Prince came on the scene I was on my journey to become a physician; buried in medical school. I never had time to listen to his music. Didn’t go to any of his concerts. Arrogantly thought that he’d always be around and of course, I was wrong.

Good people come into your life for a reason and a season, and then they’re gone. Prince’s phenomenal season ended much, much too soon.

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Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway is a board-certified OB-GYN physician, author, blogger, patient safety advocate, subject expert consultant for the federal government, the mother of 2 amazing sons. She is an original Brooklynite but has lived in Florida for the past 20 years. She is a graduate of the City College of New York, Columbia University School of Social Work, Boston University School of Medicine and received a post-residency certificate in Clinical Informatics from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She is passionate about using innovative tools to maintain patient safety and is a business partner at the Click-It-Clinic.