Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Coroner: Gans Death "Accidental"

[UPDATE: Here's my New York Times brief and I'll be on KNPR via the radio or Web from about 9:40 a.m. PT on on Wednesday discussing this result.]

The coroner, Mike Murphy, announced a few minutes ago that Danny Gans died May 1 from a combination of "drug toxicity" and a long-term heart problem and ruled it "accidental." He refused to agree to several reporters' efforts to characterize this as a drug "overdose" but he did say that Gans had "toxic" levels of hydromorphone, a pain killer, in his system. Hydromorphone is marketed as Dilaudid. There's more about it at this drugs.com site.

The hydromorphone had been prescribed for "chronic pain syndrome" and is known to cause circulatory stress. That makes it a peculiar medication for someone with a known heart condition to be prescribed.

Gans manager Chip Lightman, who couldn't be reached today, told Norm Clarke of the R-J all about the heart issue in May while also seeming to play it down. That the heart problem was an underlying cause of his death makes Lightman's statement within hours of Gans' death that he's was "healthy as an ox" obviously incorrect to say the least.

The coroner would not comment on any other substances that may have been in Gans' body because he said his legal obligation is solely to address those things that caused the death and that he's not permitted to disclose other personal health data. He also wouldn't say what chronic pain Gans suffered, but it's widely known that Gans had several surgeries on his knees and shoulders. His minor-league baseball career, in fact, was cut short by an Achilles tendon injury.

I'm sure there'll be more on this, but probably not from me. My editors at the Times just want a brief. But the local media is sure to examine more closely why he was prescribed this medication and what its interaction with his heart condition and any heart medication he was taking might have been.


Anonymous said...

Mike Murphy is a crooner coroner.

Anonymous said...

Jeffery Pollack just advertised your podcast to 1600 followers on Twitter... Mentioned he talked with you and Joe Reitman (sp?) at Cinevegas.