A Southern California doctor who had earned the nickname “Dr. Feelgood” for prescribing large quantities of prescription drugs has been charged with murder for the overdose deaths of three patients. Lisa (Hsiu-Ying) Tseng was taken into custody at her office located in a Rowland Heights strip mall and led away in handcuffs. She will be arraigned in Los Angeles County Superior Court and is being held on $3 million bail. If convicted, Dr. Tseng could be sentenced to a state prison term of 45 years to life.
According to authorities, Tseng wrote prescriptions for narcotic painkillers including OxyContin and Vicodin and other potent drugs like Xanax and Adderall at a rate of about 25 per day for the past three years. This amounted to more than 27,000 prescriptions. Her patients were asked a minimum number of questions and were not given thorough medical examinations.
Tseng’s arrest is the culmination of a lengthy investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency that was prompted by the overdose deaths of three healthy young men in 2009: Vu Nguyen, age 29; Steven Ogle, 25, and Joseph Rovero III, 21.
In the case of Rovero, the Arizona State University student drove to Tseng’s office from Arizona because he had heard it was easy to obtain drugs from her. He requested prescriptions for Xanax and OxyContin, saying that another doctor had prescribed them in the past. Tseng have him prescriptions without obtaining his patient history or identifying his previous doctors. Within a few days, the young man died from acute drug intoxication. The circumstances surrounding the deaths of Nguyen and Ogle were similar.
Reckless and Criminal “Drug Dealing” Behavior
Besides the three charges of murder, Tseng faces 21 additional felony counts of fraud and prescribing controlled substances without a valid medical purpose. Undercover officers from the DEA had visited Tseng’s office several times and posed as patients seeking prescriptions for which they had no medical need.
Tseng and her physician husband opened their store front medical office in 2005. By 2008 she was being watched by the DEA and the California Medical Boart due to the rate at which she was writing prescriptions. In 2010, she surrendered her medical license following DEA suspension of her license to write prescriptions. By then it was already too late for the three young men who died from drugs she had prescribed.
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley stated that Dr. Tseng’s motive appears to have been greed. The growing number of people who abuse prescription drugs have caused some unethical doctors to place profit about patient health and safety. While patients die, these doctors seem to think they have found a quick and easy way to get rich. Tseng has refused to take responsibility for her actions, stating that it’s not her fault if patients didn’t follow dosage instructions for the drugs she prescribed.