Saturday, October 31, 2015

Medical mayhem 2

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.


  1. Prosecutors said this is the first time in the United States that a doctor has been convicted of murder for over-prescribing drugs.

    Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng, 45, was found guilty of 23 counts, including 19 counts of unlawful controlled substance prescription and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

    Tseng was convicted on Friday of second-degree murder for the deaths of Vu Nguyen, 28, of Lake Forest; Steven Ogle, 24, of Palm Desert; and Joseph Rovero, 21, an Arizona State University student from San Ramon. All were in their 20s when they died between March and December 2009.

    "This verdict sends a strong message to individuals in the medical community who put patients at risk for their own financial gain," District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. "In this case, the doctor stole the lives of three young people in her misguided effort to get rich quick."

  2. The only doctor to ever be convicted of murder for recklessly prescribing drugs in the United States was sentenced today to 30 years to life in prison.

    Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, a 46-year-old former general practitioner, was found guilty on October 30, 2015 of the second-degree murder of three patients. The prosecutor said that Tseng made up medical records and called her patients “druggies” at her Rowland Heights, California based practice in Los Angeles County. She was also said to have written a man’s name on prescriptions so that a woman could get double the amount of pills.

    “Red flags” were brought to Tseng’s attention at least a dozen times, according to the prosecution. She was notified nine times over three years when a patient had passed away with prescribed drugs in his or her system and she ignored warnings about her prescribing habits.
    The jury found Tseng guilty for the second-degree murders of Joey Rovero, 21, Steven Ogle, 25, and Vu Nguyen, 28.

    “She wrote them a prescription for the very thing they’re addicted to,” Deputy District Attorney John Niedermann said back in October. Oxycodone was among the prescription drugs that Tseng inappropriately prescribed.

    - See more at:

  3. The pain management clinic on Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, New York City, was called "the zoo" — a place where addicts, fake patients, and armed drug traffickers thronged, fought, and walked away with millions of oxycodone pills.

    The clinic's owner, Kevin Lowe, MD, did not write the bogus prescriptions himself but watched from afar with surveillance cameras as other physicians did his bidding: "[I]ll-equipped, desperate doctors in dire need of work," federal prosecutors said.

    A jury in May 2015 found the 55-year-old Dr Lowe guilty of one count of conspiring to distribute narcotics. Earlier this month, US District Judge Lorna Schofield, in the Southern District of New York, sentenced him to 144 months in prison. Prosecutors had sought an even stiffer sentence, arguing that "the magnitude of the defendant's conduct places him on par with true drug kingpins."

    Twenty-four other defendants in the case pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone. One of them, Robert Terdiman, MD, was sentenced last year to time already served for churning out prescriptions for 70 patients a day. Saddled with "significant cognitive impairments," as his attorney informed the court, Dr Terdiman was directed to continue living at a senior center as part of his supervised release.

    Tomasito Virey, MD, was another physician who pleaded guilty to writing bogus prescriptions for oxycodone at another clinic in the Bronx that was owned by Dr Lowe. He was found dead from an apparent drug-overdose suicide in a relative's home on February 4, 2014, the same day that federal and state agents busted Dr Lowe's operation, prosecutors said.

    Neither Dr Virey nor Dr Terdiman had any experience in pain management prior to joining Dr Lowe's operation...

    Court records describe a brazen criminal enterprise. Drug traffickers known as crew chiefs commanded fake patients, who paid $300 for an office visit lasting only a minute or two. There were no tests or physical examinations. Crew chiefs footed the bill and gave their fake patients nominal sums for their role. The fake patients obtained oxycodone prescriptions, had them filled, and turned over the pills to their crew chiefs, who sold them on the street for $30 apiece in New York City and for more elsewhere. Independent drug dealers and addicts lined up for prescriptions after paying admission fees as high as $1600 in cash.

  4. Jacques Roy, MD, a physician originally arrested in early 2012 in the largest home health fraud case involving a single physician, was found guilty in a suburban Texas court, according to a Medscape report.

    The federal district court jury found Dr. Roy guilt of fraud charges after a six-week trial. Dr. Roy owned two home health agencies where he allegedly recruited fake patients with groceries, cash and fast food, according to the report. Here are five things to know:

    1. Dr. Roy was found guilt of various fraud charges for billing Medicare and Medicaid home health services patients didn't need, amounting to $375 million.

    2. Dr. Roy's practice approved 11,000 Medicare beneficiaries to receive care in 500 home health agencies fraudulently over five years. According to the report, Dr. Roy and affiliated providers made unnecessary home visits and ordered unneeded services.

    3. For the 2006 to 2011 period examined, Dr. Roy's practice certified more Medicare beneficiaries for home health and treated more during that time than any other practice in the country.

    4. Employees at Dr. Roy's practice signed the CMS Form 485 — the Home Health Certification and Plan of Care — for him in their own hand or through electronic signatures.

    5. After his arrest Dr. Roy became a flight risk — he created a fake identity — and hid almost $19 million his practice received from Medicare and Medicaid. His office manager also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and has sentencing in June.

  5. On Nov. 21, 2012, Sheila Bartels walked out of the Sunshine Medical Center in Oklahoma with a prescription for a "horrifyingly excessive" cocktail of drugs capable of killing her several times over.

    A short time later, she was at a pharmacy, receiving what drug addicts call “the holy trinity” of prescription drugs: the powerful painkiller Hydrocodone, the anti-anxiety medication Xanax and a muscle relaxant known as Soma.

    In total, pharmacists handed her 510 pills that day — all legal, because she had a prescription with the signature of her doctor, Regan Ganoung Nichols, scrawled at the bottom, according to a probable cause affidavit.

    Bartels's lifeless body was found later that day, court documents say. A medical examiner concluded that she died of multiple drug toxicity, another victim of the America's opioid epidemic…

    Nichols is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Bartels and four other patients, some of whom died just days after receiving large prescriptions from the doctor. She was arrested Friday and released from Oklahoma County Jail on $50,000 bail.