Doctor Arrested In Connection With Overdose Deaths, Relieves Local Moms

[vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Laguna Niguel mothers,and , said they were able to breathe sighs of relief when they heard that Rowland Heights doctor, Lisa Tseng was charged with second-degree murder and other counts in the prescription drug overdose deaths of three male patients was arrested Wednesday.

Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, 42, was taken into custody by investigators from the state’s Medical Board and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

“Dr. Tseng is an educated woman with no conscious and no regard for human life.  She took an oath to ‘first, do no harm’ and something in her mind or life went terribly wrong.  It’s unfathomable how a physician can write over 27,000 prescriptions for medication known to be addictive and then flippantly say, ‘It’s the parent’s problem’ and that she has no control over how they take the medication after she prescribes them. The wheels of justice turned slowly for those who lost their children because of this woman.  But now, the deceased young men and woman will have their day in court,”said resident Natalie Costa, who is producing a film about prescription drug overdoses in Orange County called 

Tseng is charged with three counts of second-degree murder in connection with the March 2, 2009, death of Vu Nguyen, 29, of Lake Forest; the April 9, 2009, death of Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert and the Dec. 18, 2009, death of Joseph Rovero III, 21, an Arizona State University student from San Ramon.

She is also charged with 20 counts of prescribing drugs without a legitimate purpose and one count of prescribing drugs using fraud—all felonies.

Added Jodi Barber, whose son Jarrod died of a prescription drug overdose in 2010, and who she said prescribed to the kids who gave the drug Opana to him, “This is one of many doctors that need to be prosecuted and locked up behind bars for over-prescribing and knowingly prescribing deadly combination’s to patients. Lisa Tseng knew exactly what she was doing. It saddens me to know so many young addicts who went to her and can’t stop their addiction. Just because the young adult is 18, these dirty doctors feel the right to prescribe pills to them. I know fathers who have pleaded with doctors to stop prescribing pills because now their child is addicted. The response to the father is, ‘ sorry I can’t do anything if they’re 18.’ Young adults are in and out of the office in five minutes. There are no testing or X-rays. This has got to stop.”

Barber and Brant produced the docu-film,  about prescription drug overdose earlier this year. It is routinely screened in and around Orange County.

Barber and Brant do presentations at local church groups and neighborhood associations for free. They often come with Dr. Robert Winokur the Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Mission Hospital and show Overtaken and provide valuable information on the current trends in drug abuse.

“Well it is certainly a victory but one that is of course bittersweet. I believe she has been accurately charged with murder given the blatant disregard for her patients’ medical histories and heath. There have been so many healthy young lives lost because of this type of overprescribing and greed,” said Brant.

“Jodi and I spend every week trying to on the dangers of drugs and to see this woman finally put behind bars where she belongs most definitely a victory in our fight against drug abuse. While none of us want more regulation in our lives, I believe it is absolutely mandatory that more must be done to monitor doctors and pharmacies that are overprescribing. 

“The media has begun to really shed the light on this epidemic with stories like and the current arrests of several doctors who were prescribing unethically. Let’s hope our judicial system will now send an accurate message by convicting Dr. Tseung of murder. The oath given when one becomes a doctor is a promise to ‘first, do no harm.’ When a doctor breeches those ethics to the degree Lisa Tseung did there should be criminal ramifications and a monitoring system needs to be set in place to prevent more lives from being destroyed,” Brant said.

The Prescriptions

One of the prescription counts involves methadone prescribed to Ogle less than a month before his death, while another involves Oxycodone prescribed to Rovero nine days before his death, according to the criminal complaint.

The other prescription drug counts involve a half-dozen prescription drugs prescribed—including Methadone, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone—for other patients or prescriptions written for undercover officers, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Tseng agreed this week to surrender her license as an osteopathic physician effective March 14, according to the Osteopathic Medical Board of California’s website.

An accusation filed last month by the California Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the state’s osteopathic medical board alleges that Tseng “committed acts or omissions involving gross negligence in the care and treatment of 14 patients,” including Nguyen and Rovero.

The medical board alleges that Nguyen—identified as —”Vu N.”—complained of neck and upper back pain and anxiety and saw Tseng seven times between Aug. 9, 2008, and Feb. 7, 2009, and that she “repeatedly wrote Vu N. prescriptions for controlled substances which included Alprazolam and Oxycodone (oxymorphone).”

An autopsy attributed the cause of his death to the combined effects ofoxymorphone and Alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, according to the document.

The board also alleges that Rovero—identified as “Joseph R. III”—filled prescriptions written by Tseng for Xanax and Oxycodone after his first and only visit to her on Dec. 9, 2009 on a complaint of anxiety and pain in his low back, hand and wrist, and that he overdosed and died on Dec. 18, 2009.

An autopsy determined that he died from acute intoxication of Oxycodone and Xanax, and that the autopsy also showed alcohol in his body, according to the document.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration launched an investigation in 2008 after a pharmacy reported overlapping customers, with the probe involving undercover work and a search warrant that was executed at Tseng’s clinic, authorities said.

The DEA, in an August 2010 statement, reported its investigation showed that between September 2007 and July 2009, “Dr. Tseng routinely prescribed highly abused Schedule II through IV controlled substances to drug-seeking individuals, many of them between the ages of 18-26, while conducting cursory or no medical examination” and that “many of those individuals in turn abused or diverted those drugs for illicit purposes.”

DEA special agents and California Medical Board investigators posed as patients seeking prescriptions for controlled substances during a half-dozen undercover visits to Tseng’s office between April 2008 and July 2010, according to Timothy J.Landrum, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Los Angeles Field Division.

On five of the six occasions, Tseng issued prescriptions for Vicodin, Suboxone and Xanax without taking a medical history and for no legitimate purpose, according to the DEA.

Following an August 2010 raid at her office, Tseng told the Los Angeles Times, “I really believe I did nothing wrong. I was really strict with my patients, and I followed the guidelines. If my patient decides to take a month’s supply in a day, then there’s really nothing I can do about that.”

In a statement announcing the criminal charges, District Attorney Steve Cooley said, “Deaths from overdoses of prescription drugs now outnumber deaths from traffic accidents in the United States. Prescription drug overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions. Enough is enough. Doctors are not above the law.”

If convicted as charged, Tseng faces up to 45 years to life in state prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

–City News Service contributed to this report[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”grey” align=”align_center” style=”” border_width=”” el_width=””][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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