Here is another reason NOT to get into the habit of just trusting patients with the judicial use of their narcotics. Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, a general practitioner, is the first California doctor ever charged with murdering patients who overdosed merely for prescribing them medication. Yes, you read that right. MURDER. The article goes on:
It’s an understandable message, Smith said, considering the country’s prescription drug overdose epidemic. But he and other medical and legal experts are worried that if Tseng is convicted, it will have “a chilling effect,” making good doctors reluctant to prescribe painkillers to patients, who will suffer unnecessarily.
To be fair, Tseng had issues. The “coroner’s or law enforcement officials had called Tseng more than a dozen times and informed her that patients of hers had died of an overdose or potential overdose. Despite those calls — and various other “red flags,” which Niedermann said included a patient overdosing in the hallway of her clinic — Tseng didn’t change her prescribing practice.” Yeah, that’s not good. But then there is this:
Tseng’s receptionist will testify, Niedermann said, that she once overheard someone talking on the phone with Tseng on a day the doctor was late to work. The person told Tseng that the waiting room at her Rowland Heights office had filled up and patients were getting anxious. Niedermann said the receptionist will testify that she overhead Tseng respond: “They’re druggies, they can wait.” Addicts and former patients will also testify, Niedermann said, including a man who will say that Tseng merely glanced at his chart and asked him what he wanted.
Well, that may not sound professional, but this doc knew her patients and gave them what they wanted. Does that make her a murderer?
Some more from the article:
Tseng is charged with second-degree murder for the deaths of Vu Nguyen, 28, of Lake Forest; Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert; and Joey Rovero, 21, an Arizona State University student, who prosecutors say traveled more than 300 miles with friends from Tempe, Ariz., to get prescriptions from Tseng.
Yup, they traveled more than 300 miles to get scripts from her. The word gets out about narc giving docs. When I started, the word would get out locally as all these seekers would talk to each other. Nowadays, the work gets out even more via social media. So are these “victims” so innocent. Well, you decide. They describe how one sweet brown-eyed boy who loves soccer and fantasy football died because he mixed alcohol with Xanax and Oxycodone. Yup, that was the testimony. The mother said “she remembers the detective’s voice on the phone describing Joey’s room littered with near-empty vials of his medicine. The name of the doctor on the bottles, she said, was Tseng.” The kid was not a cub scout crossing old ladies across the street.
I am not defending the doctor but she is not the only guilty party. Her clients were narc seekers coming as far as 300 miles away to get their drugs and either sell them or party with them. They are guilty as well. Don’t get me wrong, Tseng should lose her license but she is not murderer. That being said, as this article says, doctors need to be careful and not get reckless, greedy or ambivalent in their narcotic prescription habit. Oh, and just know that you could get sued for NOT doing enough for patients’ pain either. Got to love this job!