Doctor Who Fueled Prescription Drug Habits Faces Murder ChargesA Rowland Heights doctor who fueled the prescription drug habits of several young men in Los Angeles and Orange counties faces murder charges following three fatal overdoses. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of 28-year-old Vu Nguyen, of Lake Forest; 21-year-old Joey Rovero, of San Ramon; and 25-year-old Steven Ogle, of Palm Desert. However, a 2010 Los Angeles Times investigation linked the doctor to the fatal overdoses of at least eight men, reported the newspaper.
“With the escalating abuse of and overdose from prescription drugs, the state should focus on identifying, arresting, and prosecuting the suppliers,” remarked Orange County injury lawyer James Ballidis.
Since 1990, the incidence of drug overdose death has more than tripled in the United States, claiming more the 36,000 lives in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The surge can largely be attributed to the increasing use of prescription drugs, specifically painkillers: nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses in 2008 were caused by painkillers, surpassing the death rate from cocaine and heroin combined.
In 2010, more than 12 million people reported using prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons. Highly potent and addictive, painkillers and anxiety drugs, such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax, and Soma, have claimed the lives of numerous youths in Los Angeles and Orange counties in recent years. In addition to Nguyen, Rovero, and Ogle, Tseng has also been linked to the deaths of 15-year-old Nolan Smith, 20-year-old Riley Russo, and 20-year-old Ryan Winter, all of Orange County. The young men reportedly drove to Tseng’s Rowland Heights office, paying cash for their prescriptions and filling them several miles away from their homes.
Last year, the parents of Russo and Winter filed lawsuits against Tseng in civil court, alleging that her prescription of drugs to their sons for nonmedical uses made her a drug dealer.
Civil Liability for Prescription Drug Abuse
In addition to criminal charges, physicians who abuse their positions and offer prescription drugs for a fee may find themselves facing other problems as well. The loss of their medical license is almost a given, for example. They may also face a civil lawsuit from the parents or relatives of the overdose victims who are harmed or killed by the prescription drug abuse.
With potential civil and criminal liability, California doctors have added incentive to refrain from bad prescription practices. Bringing murder charges against Ms. Tseng because of the deaths caused by prescription abuse is a clear way to set a strong example that prescription drug abuse will not be tolerated.
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