Day: October 31, 2015

California Doctor Convicted in Overdose Deaths of 3 PatientsCalifornia Doctor Convicted in Overdose Deaths of 3 Patients

The second-degree murder convictions this week of a Los Angeles-area physician were the first against a U.S. doctor for recklessly prescribing drugs, the Los Angeles district attorney’s office said.

Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng was convicted of murder on Friday in a landmark case for killing three patients who overdosed on what a prosecutor called “crazy, outrageous amounts” of painkillers she prescribed.

It’s rare to bring homicide charges against a physician, but the case came amid a prescription drug abuse epidemic that has led lawmakers to try to rein in so-called pill mills that dole out medications with little scrutiny.

“You can’t hide behind a white lab coat and commit crimes,” Deputy District Attorney John Niedermann said. “Writing a prescription to someone knowing that they’re going to abuse it and potentially die was the theory of second-degree murder that we had.”

A dozen of Tseng’s patients died, though prosecutors only brought three murder charges because of other factors involved in some of those deaths, such as drugs prescribed by other doctors and a possible suicide.

Tseng, 45, showed no emotion as the convictions were read out loud, though her lawyer said she was emotional and very upset later. Jurors deliberated for 10 days before reaching the verdicts.

She was also convicted of illegally writing prescriptions for two of the deceased patients and 16 other people, including two undercover agents who were investigating how easily she prescribed addictive pain pills after brief office visits. She was acquitted of illegally writing a hydrocodone prescription to a third undercover officer.

Tseng prescribed “crazy, outrageous amounts of medication” to patients who didn’t need the pills, Niedermann told jurors in Los Angeles County Superior Court during closing arguments.

The doctor repeatedly ignored warning signs even after several patients died as she built a new medical clinic in Rowland Heights with the money she made from them, earning $5 million in one three-year period. One patient even overdosed in her office and had to be revived.

“Something is wrong with what you’re doing if your patients are dying,” Niedermann said.

Tseng’s lawyer said her client naively trusted her patients. Defense lawyer Tracy Green said patients testified they 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.

Green had asked jurors to acquit Tseng on all but one drug count.

Tseng shouldn’t have been convicted of anything more than manslaughter and plans to appeal, Green said after the verdict.

“It’s disappointing,” Green said. “I don’t think it bodes well for doctors in America.”

Tseng faces up to life in prison when sentenced Dec. 14.

She was convicted of killing Vu Nguyen, 29, of Lake Forest, Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert, and Joseph Rovero, 21, an Arizona State University student from San Ramon. The three died of overdoses between March and December 2009.

Tseng barely kept any records on the three men until she was contacted by the Medical Board of California. She then fabricated charts to make it look like she kept thorough records of diagnoses and noted she was weaning them off drugs, Niedermann said.

Tseng ignored pleas from family members of patients who demanded she stop prescribing drugs to them.

April Rovero, who lost her son almost six years ago, said she had waited for justice so long that she almost couldn’t believe it when she heard the words “guilty” uttered repeatedly.

She said her son and others were culpable at some level, but they had lost the ability to stop themselves and Tseng took advantage.

If her son were alive today, she’d tell him that his bad choice led to an outcome that could have a broader impact.

“This is something that could make a difference as we turn this doctor overprescribing situation around,” Rovero said. “I wish he was here, certainly, but his life has made a difference.”

Source:- abcnews


Fire at Philippines Market Kills 15 Vendors, ChildrenFire at Philippines Market Kills 15 Vendors, Children

A pre-dawn fire in the southern Philippines raced through public market stalls, killing 15 vendors, including six children, who were sleeping there to be up early for the weekend crowds, police said.

Thirteen other vendors were injured in the three-hour blaze in Zamboanga city, a major port about 860 kilometers (540 miles) south of Manila, the capital. It apparently started when sparks from low-slung electric post cables set fire to sidewalk stall umbrellas then ignited stacks of used clothing being sold at the city market, said Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro.

The victims were clothes vendors who slept at their stalls, including at least six children, so they could be up early for the weekend market that usually draws sizable crowds, said police investigator Rafael Salcedo.

“One vendor saw the electrical sparks set a stall umbrella on fire, but many were asleep and the others thought somebody was just playing a prank until the fire started to spread,” Salcedo said by telephone.

The victims’ bodies were taken to a nearby Muslim mosque prior to burial, he said.

Firefighters, who have been on alert along with police for All Saints’ Day ceremonies in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation, prevented the blaze from spreading to nearby commercial buildings.

Salcedo said that daily blackouts might have caused power fluctuations, but Bureau of Fire investigators would determine whether officers in charge of fire safety could be criminally liable.

Dilapidated buildings, a lack of adequate fire safety systems and inspectors and weak enforcement of fire safety regulations have contributed to many fires in the Philippines.

In 1996, a disco fire left 162 people dead, mostly students celebrating the ends of the school year in one of the deadliest nightclub fires in the world.

Source:- abcnews