Did “VIP Syndrome” Play a Role in Prince’s Death?

In a new op-ed on CNN, Robert Klitzman, Director of the Master of Science in Bioethics program at Columbia University, writes about a surprising possible factor in the death of legendary musician Prince: VIP Syndrome.

In 1964, psychiatrist Walter Weintraub coined the term VIP Syndrome to describe the relationship between a doctor and a high-profile patient. When a patient has fortune and fame, a doctor may make special considerations for their needs, providing medical treatment that may be subjugated to the patient’s power.

In recent celebrity deaths, such as those of Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers, news emerged about their doctors violating regular protocol in order to treat their pain. Klitzman writes that VIP Syndrome is an issue for doctors and that they do have to look at how their medical ethics are challenged by celebrity status.

In the case of Prince’s passing, VIP Syndrome is looking like a distinct factor, as the musician suffered from hip injuries and doctors bent the rules to prescribe treatment. As Klitzman writes, what we need is further training and awareness of the pitfalls of special treatment.

Read the full piece at CNN and read more about the Bioethics graduate program.