Prescription medications can keep our blood pressure low, treat high cholesterol, relieve arthritis pain, and even keep our romantic lives active. However, drugs can also be dangerous. Doctors are supposed to be aware of the dangers behind certain drugs, look for warning signs, and make sure their patients are not given an unsafe quantity of dangerous medications. A California doctor has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in connection with the overdose deaths of three patients.
Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng had a clinic in Rowland Heights, California. Between 2007 and 2010, Dr. Tseng prescribed powerful narcotic painkillers to thousands of patients. According to a Los Angeles Times investigation, at least 8 of her patients died from drug overdoses from they same kind of drugs Dr. Tseng prescribed.
After an investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and local law enforcement, Tseng was eventually charged with the murder of three of her patients, including Vu Nguyen, 28; Steven Ogle, 25; and Joey Rovero, a 21-year-old student from Tempe, Arizona, who drove over 300 miles to obtain prescriptions from Dr. Tseng.
Dr. Tseng denied any wrongdoing. She says she was deceived by her patients and was unaware of their drug addictions. However, prosecutors said she had plenty of warning that she was giving dangerous levels of narcotics to her patients. Over three years, she received nine phone calls from authorities saying that her patients had died of drug overdoses.
Tseng was accused over-prescribing narcotics to patients with no legitimate reasons for taking the drugs, and even fraudulently prescribing medications in the name of a woman’s husband, so she could double fill her pills. Prosecutors say her motivation was financial. In the 3 years, she was at the medical clinic with her husband, the couple’s tax returns show they made $5 million.
According to prosecutors, Tseng was notified of her first patient’s overdose in 2007, only two days after prescribing the patient Oxycodone, Xanax, and Soma. Six months later, she was notified of another patient’s fatal overdose. “The defendant was repeatedly notified by law enforcement that her patients were dying on her,” said Deputy District Attorney John Niedermann.
A jury found Tseng guilty of murder. This marks the first time in the United States that a doctor has been convicted of murder for overprescribing medications. A judge has sentenced Tseng to 30 years to life in prison. According to Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli, Tseng had avoided responsibility for her actions, attempting to put the blame on patients, pharmacists, and other doctors instead.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of suspected malpractice, and the hospital refuses to give you a straight answer, the Gilman & Bedigian team of experienced attorneys here to help. We are fully equipped to handle the complex process of bringing a medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of malpractice litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward with your life.