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article imageCalifornia doctor gets 30 years to life for overdose deaths

By Arthur Weinreb     Feb 5, 2016 in Crime
Los Angeles - Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng is the first doctor in the United States to be convicted of second-degree murder in the overdose deaths of three of her patients. She wrote the prescriptions but did not administer the drugs.
Tseng, 46, appeared in a Los Angeles court today for sentencing. In sentencing the doctor to 30 years to life, Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli called the defendant "very irresponsible," saying she put the blame on pharmacists, other doctors and the patients themselves for what happened instead of taking responsibility for her actions.
The Los Angeles Times reports Tseng apologized to the victims' families, her family, and the medical society.
In October, after 10 days of deliberations, a jury found Tseng guilty of three counts of second-degree murder in the overdose deaths of three patients. The jury also found her guilty of illegally writing prescriptions for two of the dead and 16 other patients that included two undercover officers.
At the time the verdict was rendered, NBC News reported several other patients of Tseng had died but those cases were not clear cut due to other factors such as prescriptions from other doctors and a suicide.
One patient died in her office but was revived. Every time one of her patients died of a drug overdose, Tseng received a call from the coroner's office advising her of the cause of death and law enforcement constantly warned the doctor her patients were dying but she kept on prescribing. She earned $5 million in one three-year-period and used the funds to build a new medical clinic.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Tseng wrote more than 27,000 prescriptions in the three-year-period or 25 a day, spending as little time as three minutes with each patient.
Tseng pleaded not guilty to the charges. Her lawyer argued she was naive and did not believe her patients would abuse the drugs. She also believed the patients had lied to her about their need for medication and intentionally took more than they were prescribed.
Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John Neidermann proceeded with the second-degree murder charges, in part, because Tseng had ignored warnings three of her patients had earlier died from drug overdoses.
April Rovero, whose 19-year-old son Joey was one of the victims, founded the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse after her son's death in 2009. After the sentencing she said Tseng's apology was late but better than nothing. Rovero was pleased with the sentence handed down and felt justice was done.
The conviction has already had a deterrent effect on the medical profession. According to Peter Osinoff, one of Tseng's attorneys, many doctors are now refusing to treat chronic pain patients and those who really need these drugs are having a difficult time obtaining them.
Tseng, who surrendered her medical licence in 2012, will not be eligible for parole for 30 years. She intends to appeal both the convictions and sentence.
More about dr hsiuying "lisa" tseng, seconddegree murder, overdose deaths, Prescription drug abuse
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