Pill Doctor Busted for Murder

by Patrick Malone & Associates P.C. | DC Injury Lawyers

A report recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drew a scary picture of prescription drug problems in the U.S. “The epidemic of prescription drug overdoses in the United States has worsened over the last decade, and by 2008, drug overdose deaths (36,450) were approaching the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes (39,973), the leading cause of injury death in the United States.”

“These increases occurred,” the report read, “despite numerous warnings and recommendations over the past decade for voluntary education of providers about more cautious use of OPRs [opioid pain relievers].”

Some doctors just aren’t getting the message: One study showed that only about 3 in 100 physicians account for more than 60 in 100 OPR prescriptions. One of them, it appears, might be Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng, an osteopath practicing in a Los Angeles suburb. Last month, authorities finally said “enough” to Tseng, and charged her with murder in connection with three fatal overdoses.

Narcotic drugs—OPRs—are at the heart of this grim reality. We’ve looked at their dicey history before, and efforts to make them safer. By 2010, the report said, OPR sales were sufficient to medicate every American adult with a standard dose of hydrocodone (Vicodin) every four hours for month. Is it any wonder that sales of these morphine-like drugs such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Dilaudid paralleled the OD death trend?

As recounted by the Los Angeles Times, Tseng also stands accused of recklessly prescribing narcotic painkillers and other addictive drugs, but the murder charge is, according to The Times, “a rare attempt to hold a physician criminally liable for patients' deaths.”

Tseng told The Times in 2010 that she had been confronted about her prescribing habits by her patients' loved ones. At the time, she absolved herself of any problem they might be having. “‘They call me all sorts of names — drug doctor, drug-dealing doctor.… I tell parents a lot of times it's their problem."

The three dead patients named in the district attorney’s complaint died in 2009 after traveling long distances to see Tseng, a general practitioner. One came all the way from Arizona.

According to The Times, the Drug Enforcement Administration had been investigating Tseng for years even as her patients continued to overdose. The feds were considering charging her under a drug-dealing statute.

In addition to the deaths, the L.A. district attorney has charged Tseng with 20 counts of prescribing painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs to people who had no legitimate need for the medications. She was nabbed by investigators working under cover as "patients." The drugs she allegedly prescribed included the common black-market drugs oxycodone and alprazolam. Some of Tseng’s patients had been charged with dealing drugs, and family members told The Times that they suspected their loved ones of selling some of their prescriptions to finance their habit.

Tseng was in deep trouble even before her murder rap. She had agreed previously to surrender her medical license in settlement of gross negligence charges related to more than a dozen patients (three of whom died) to whom she allegedly prescribed excessive amounts of drugs without taking the standard-care precautions of checking a state-run prescription database to see if they were already being prescribed similar drugs from other doctors.

Cases like Tseng’s and that of Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, are highly unusual. Brian Liang, director of the Institute of Health Law Studies at the California Western School of Law, told The Times, “We don't generally criminalize negative medical outcomes. It is very rare for a physician to get hit with gross negligence to the point of criminality. That's a very difficult standard."

Said Tseng to The Times a couple of years ago: "I never intended to kill anybody."

But it looks like she did. And it looks like she was given plenty of time to do it. Yes, it’s nice that somebody is bringing down the hammer on a supposed “caregiver” who’s really a dangerous threat. But we want to know what took you so long?


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Patrick Malone & Associates P.C. | DC Injury Lawyers | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Patrick Malone & Associates P.C. | DC Injury Lawyers

Patrick Malone & Associates P.C. | DC Injury Lawyers on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.