The second-degree murder convictions this week of a Los Angeles-area physician were the first against a U.S. doctor for recklessly prescribing drugs, the Los Angeles district attorney's office said. Dr. Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng was convicted of murder on Friday in a landmark case for killing three patients who overdosed on what a prosecutor called "crazy, outrageous amounts" of painkillers she prescribed.
It's rare to bring homicide charges against a physician, but the case came amid a prescription drug abuse epidemic that has led lawmakers to try to rein in so-called pill mills that dole out medications with little scrutiny.
"You can't hide behind a white lab coat and commit crimes," Deputy District Attorney John Niedermann said. "Writing a prescription to someone knowing that they're going to abuse it and potentially die was the theory of second-degree murder that we had."
A dozen of Tseng's patients died, though prosecutors only brought three murder charges because of other factors involved in some of those deaths, such as drugs prescribed by other doctors and a possible suicide...
The doctor repeatedly ignored warning signs even after several patients died as she built a new medical clinic in Rowland Heights with the money she made from them, earning $5 million in one three-year period. One patient even overdosed in her office and had to be revived...
Tseng barely kept any records on the three men until she was contacted by the Medical Board of California. She then fabricated charts to make it look like she kept thorough records of diagnoses and noted she was weaning them off drugs, Niedermann said.
Tseng ignored pleas from family members of patients who demanded she stop prescribing drugs to them.