A California doctor was convicted last week of second-degree murder due to the deaths of three patients who overdosed on narcotics they were prescribed. While under Dr. Tseng's care a dozen patients died; however, she was only charged with three due to other "factors involved" in the other deaths.
According to reports, Dr. Tseng was convicted of all but one of 21 drug-related counts. Her illegal prescription activing included writing prescriptions for two of the deceased patients and 16 other people, including undercover agents investigating Dr. Tseng.
The reports go on to say that Dr. Tseng ignored pleas of family members of patients who demanded she stop prescribing drugs to these patients. According to Deputy District Attorney John Niedermann, Dr. Tseng's attitude is, "I know this is going to kill them, but I don't care because I have a business to run."
Dr. Tseng's lawyer testified that she legitimately prescribed drugs to patients who were legitimately in pain, and later became dependent on the drugs, hiding their addictions by seeing other doctors and picking up prescriptions from different pharmacies. Despite this testimony, Dr. Tseng was convicted with second-degree murder.
This article serves as an important reminder that prescription drug abuse is taken seriously. We recently reported that HHS is very concerned with prescription drug abuse. HHS recently released a plan to combat abuse of opioid painkillers: "Deaths for drug overdose have risen steadily over the past two decades and have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States."
As we mentioned in our July article titled Prescription Drug Abuse we recommend providing patient education regarding prescription drugs. This education provides opportunities to both ensure your patient is compliant with their treatment regimen and to explain your prescription drug policy. We would recommend requiring the patient to sign an acknowledgment form stating their understanding of the policy, and when necessary, a patient contract stating their willingness to be compliant with the provider's prescribed treatment plan.
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