Whitney Houston Tragedy
The world is still grieving the death of music superstar Whitney Houston, and, while her funeral recently took place, the official cause of death won’t be known for several more weeks.
Inside Edition chief correspondent, Jim Moret, joins The Doctors to discuss what may have happened during Whitney’s final hours.
“This is such a grave tragedy, and our job today is not to speculate more and more, but to explain [the situation] in the world of medicine,” ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says.
“The latest is that there was prescription medication in her room,” Jim says. “However, not an unusual amount, and all [prescriptions] were in her name.”
“The medicines they found were really not out of the ordinary,” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says. “You’d probably find those medications in the purses of hundreds of thousands of people around the country.”
It is speculated that Whitney’s death was caused by mixing prescription drugs with alcohol. While cause of death is still unknown, The Doctors confirm why this combination can be lethal.
“Regardless of what happened in Whitney Houston’s case, we talk more and more on this show about polypharmacy,” Dr. Travis says. “If you don’t have a pharmacist who has all your records together, and you’re combining medicines and you even have one drink, you can die from that.
“In the last decade, the number of deaths due to prescription medications has doubled,” he adds. “More deaths occur from prescription medications than heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and methamphetamines combined.”
How will medical professionals determine the true cause of Whitney’s death? Pathologist Dr. Michael Fishbein explains what happens during an autopsy, and how toxicology will also play a role in the examination.
“We do a complete external examination to rule out trauma or foul play, then open the body and systematically examine all the organs,” Dr. Fishbein says.
If Whitney had, in fact, been using stimulants before she passed away, Dr. Fishbein says toxicology, the screening of blood and urine and sometimes the liver and brain, can determine this.
"We would also look in the stomach for partially digested pills to see if any prescriptions had been taken,” he adds.
At this point, no one is certain what Whitney Houston died of, but The Doctors urge medical professionals and patients alike to never mix prescription pills and alcohol.
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