US doctor convicted of murder for overprescribing

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:
[20120609 (LA/AA3) -- THE HEARING for Dr. Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng will determine if she stands trial for murder. -- PHOTOGRAPHER: Luis Sinco Los Angeles Times 20120606 (LA/AA3) -- CHARGED with second-degree murder is Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng. -- PHOTOGRAPHER: Luis Sinco Los Angeles Times] *** [Sinco, Luis -- B582142587Z.1 LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - JUNE 4, 2012. Hsiu- Ying "Lisa'" Tseng, a Rowland Heights doctor charged with second-degree murder and other counts in the prescription drug overdose deaths of three male patients in their 20s, appears in a Los Angeles courtroom for a preliminary hearing on Monday, June 4, 2012.]

[20120609 (LA/AA3) — THE HEARING for Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng will determine if she stands trial for murder. — PHOTOGRAPHER: Luis Sinco Los Angeles Times 20120606 (LA/AA3) — CHARGED with second-degree murder is Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng. — PHOTOGRAPHER: Luis Sinco Los Angeles Times] *** [Sinco, Luis — B582142587Z.1 LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – JUNE 4, 2012. Hsiu- Ying “Lisa'” Tseng, a Rowland Heights doctor charged with second-degree murder and other counts in the prescription drug overdose deaths of three male patients in their 20s, appears in a Los Angeles courtroom for a preliminary hearing on Monday, June 4, 2012.]

A Los Angeles-area doctor has been found guilty of three counts of murder for over-prescribing drugs that caused a fatal overdose in patients, in a case that prosecutors said marked the first such conviction in the US. The Huffington Post reports that in addition to the three counts of second-degree murder, Dr Hsiu Ying “Lisa” Tseng, was found guilty on 19 counts of unlawful prescription of a controlled substance and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

Tseng, who has remained in custody since March 2012, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when she returns to court in December for sentencing, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.

The case comes amid what public health officials describe as a national epidemic in over-prescribing narcotic painkillers. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said last year the trend was fuelling nearly 17,000 overdose deaths annually, as well as a rise in heroin addiction.

Criminally prosecuting physicians for patients’ deaths is relatively rare, with one notable case being the 2011 involuntary manslaughter conviction of Dr Conrad Murray for giving pop star Michael Jackson a fatal dose of a surgical anaesthetic to help him sleep.

Licensed to practice in 1997, Tseng opened a storefront medical office in 2005 in Rowland Heights, a hillside community east of Los Angeles that is home to many upper-middle-class and wealthy immigrants from China, Taiwan and South Korea. Prosecutors said nine of her patients died during a span of less than three years, while Tseng raked in $5m from her clinic, dispensing potent, addictive medications to people who did not need them.

She was convicted in the 2009 deaths of three of them – Vu Nguyen, 28, Steven Ogle, 24, and Joseph Rovero, 21. None resided anywhere near Rowland Heights, and one, Rovero, was an Arizona State University student from the San Francisco area.

Full report in The Huffington Post

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