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In a first, LA doctor convicted of killing 3 patients by overprescribing drugs

Published On: 03-25-2016 in Category: drug overdose


With an eye on combating the epidemic of prescription overdoses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March 2016 issued 12 recommendations for prescribing opioids. According to the recommendation, opioids are not first-line therapy for chronic pain, and that clinicians should first consider non-opioid pain relievers or non-pharmacological options such as exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy. CDC Director Tom Frieden has said that the prescription overdose epidemic is doctor-driven.

The first incident of an arrest of a Los Angeles doctor for murder by overprescribing drugs seems to reinforce the above statement. In February 2016, Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, 46, was given a sentence of a 30-year life in prison for the murders of three of her patients who fatally overdosed. A Los Angeles jury found Dr. Tseng in 2015 guilty of second-degree murder.

This is the first time a doctor had been convicted of murder in the United States for overprescribing drugs, the district attorney’s office said. According to experts, the judgment will help redefine doctors role in handling prescriptions.

According to a Drug Watch report, 52 million Americans use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at least once in their lifetimes. Since 1999, the number of deaths by overdoses involving prescription painkillers have quadrupled. It says every day, an estimated 44 Americans die from prescription painkiller overdoses.

Case of Dr Tseng

The three patients in 2007 and 2008, drove long distances to come to Tseng’s clinic for prescriptions. Tseng allegedly catered to patients who would pay cash and travel long distance to visit her clinic. She ignored cases with worsening conditions and never examined any patient physically before signing the prescription.

The prescriptions included powerful painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Tseng was also charged with illegally writing prescriptions for two patients who expired and 16 other people out of which three of them were undercover agents.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John Niedermann said Tseng is the only doctor in the U.S. accused of killing three patients by recklessly prescribing drugs. After the judgement, Tseng felt sad in the courtroom about the loss of families and apologized.

Impact of prescription drug abuse

Experts have been talking about physicians or doctors writing prescriptions just to satisfy their greed. The nation takes Tseng’s sentencing as a shock and a warning signal to the country’s health industry. Even though presidential candidates from both parties are stressing about new policies and laws, the country needs immediate actions to control.

Veteran DEA agent Mark Nomady told CNN that during his career he has come across doctors who supplied pills to patients who ultimately land up abusing it through needles too. Patients who do not understand the medical language are generally trapped in such situations.

Trusting medical professionals and expert for curing health problems should not make patients land up in difficult situations. With youngsters coming under the influence of drugs at an early age, it is proving to be a serious issue and requires immediate attention.

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction, help is available. The Los Angeles Drug Treatment and Rehab Center can suggest holistic and well-balanced treatment programs to those in need. Our specialists can help you get all the relevant information you need. You can reach us at our 24/7 helpline number 213-986-2445 or via online chat.

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