Medical Office Raided After Osteopath Linked to Multiple Overdose Deaths

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A Los Angeles area osteopath is under investigation after at least of her patients have died of prescription drug overdoses in recent years.

The Rowland Heights office of Dr. Lisa Tseng was recently searched by authorities, who suspect the osteopath of having improperly prescribed narcotics such as methadone, oxycodone and other powerful prescription painkillers. An affidavit sworn by DEA Special Agent Robert J. Harkins and filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, cited three cases in which individuals overdosed on prescription drugs that could be traced back to Tseng. In one, a young man had been prescribed the drugs directly by Tseng; in the other death, a 20-year-old acquired drugs from a dealer who allegedly got them from the doctor.

During the search, DEA and California Medical Board agents searched the Advance Care Medical Center to review patient files and the office computers, in order to glean some understanding of how Tseng practiced. Evidence presented in the affadavit presents conflicting pictures of Tseng; when undercover agents approached her, seeking particular narcotics—one wanting oxycodone for menstrual cramps—she refused to write the prescriptions. She also told an undercover agent that she “does not want a patient that takes painkillers for fun or to get high.”

Yet others have described the office as a “revolving door” that catered to young men seeking drugs, and said that Tseng has developed a reputation among addicts as a doctor who would write prescriptions without sufficient cause, for a $55 to $75 office visit fee.

A medical expert who was cited in the affidavit, after reviewing Tseng’s prescribing habits, said that it is “inconceivable that the pattern of prescriptions that he reviews comes solely from the legitimate practice of medicine.” Pharmacies, too, had reported to the DEA that Tseng had written an “unusually large number” of oxycodone and other scrips. In fact, a review of a state prescription database showed that Tseng had prescribed over 27,000 prescriptions for controlled substances—an average of 25 per day—over a three-year period.

Officials have suspended Tseng’s license to prescribe controlled substances, but not her license to practice medicine, pending the results of an ongoing investigation.

Tseng has denied any culpability, saying that the responsibility for proper use of the drugs lies with the patients themselves. “I was really strict with my patients, and I followed the guidelines. If my patient decides to take a month’s supply in one day, then there’s nothing I can do about that.”

Tseng, 40, has been under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration since 2007.

 

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