March 5, 2012
Doctor Facing Murder Charges In Patient OD Deaths
A California doctor is facing murder charges following the death of three of her patients, all of whom were died as a result of prescription drug overdoses, various media outlets reported over the weekend.
According to Marisa Taylor of ABC News, 42-year-old Dr. Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng, an osteopathic physician from Rowland Heights, reportedly wrote an average of 25 prescriptions per day over the past three years.
In addition, she faces 21 other felony counts and could face a total of 45 years to life in prison, said AP reporters Linda Deutsch and Greg Risling. Her first court appearance was last Friday, they said. Her arraignment was postponed for one week, and her bail, which is currently set at $3 million, will also be reviewed at that time.
She has been charged with the deaths of 29-year-old Vu Nguyen, 25-year-old Steven Ogle, and 21-year-old Joseph Rovero. Nguyen, a Lake Forest resident, died on March 2, 2009. Ogle, a Palm Desert resident, died on April 9, 2009, while Rovero, an Arizona State University student, died on December 18 of that year.
"Tseng wrote more than 27,000 prescriptions over a three-year period starting in January 2007 -- an average of 25 a day, according to a DEA affidavit. DEA agents swept into her office in 2010 and suspended her license to write prescriptions," Deutsch and Risling said.
In Rovero's case, an autopsy discovered that he died as a result of acute intoxication of Alprazolam and Oxycodone -- better known by their respective brand names, Xanax and OxyContin. An AP report published by USA Today on Friday said that Tseng prescribed the medicines to him, as well as Somas, after he had come to her office complaining of anxiety as well as pain in his hand, wrist, and back.
Those prescriptions were issued "after performing only a partial physical examination that didn't even note which hands or wrists were in pain," according to Osteopathic Medical Board of California records.
They accused her of failing to get a patient history and an explanation of the origins of his pain, failure to get prior treatment records to verify his medical history, failure to identify previous doctors, and failure to acquire a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse. Similar failures were found in the other two cases, the AP said.
James Acker, a professor at the University of Albany School of Criminal Justice who is not involved with the ongoing proceedings, told Taylor that it was unusual for a doctor to be charged with murder in a case such as this. He said it was "far more" typical for a physician to face the lesser charge of "criminal homicide" -- or, as was in the case of Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, involuntary manslaughter.
"Where you are knowingly engaging in risky behavior, and it's likely that an adverse consequence such as a death will result, that's sufficient to consider it homicide," he added.
On the Net:
- Alprazolam (National Library of Medicine)
- Oxycodone (National Library of Medicine)
- Osteopathic Medical Board of California
- University of Albany School of Criminal Justice