Moral abandonment and the opiate epidemic.
It was strange to see Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng in chains, but there she was: shackled, in purplish county-jail scrubs, heavy chains swinging across her belly. She doesn’t look like much of a menace to society; in fact, she looks exactly like what she is: an unimposing, middle-aged, female doctor in Rowland Heights, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb that is home to a large and largely well-off Asian-American community, mainly of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean background.
She is going away, for 30 years to life, sentenced late last week on three second-degree murder convictions related to deaths in which she did not have a direct hand, at murder scenes she was nowhere near. It’s the rest of the charges that tell the story: 19 counts of unlawful prescription of a controlled substance, one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
Dr. Tseng is the first physician to be convicted of murder for contributing to the current epidemic of prescription-opiate addiction — the motive force behind the national heroin epidemic — through her criminally wanton over-prescription of pharmaceutical painkillers.
She probably won’t be the last: Dr. Gerald Klein of Palm Beach, Fla., was charged with first-degree murder under similar circumstances last year, though in the end he was acquitted of all but one relatively minor drug charge.
Other cases are in the works.
Dr. John K. Sturman Jr. had his admitting privileges revoked in the state of Indiana in 2012, and he had earlier been disciplined by state authorities in California for his irresponsible handling of opiate prescriptions.
Naturally — inevitably, really — he was hired by our corrupt and incompetent Department of Veterans Affairs, to work at a VA hospital in Danville, Ill., where his responsibilities included — can you guess? — implementing an “opioid safety initiative.”
Last summer, he was charged with three homicides and 16 felony counts related to improper prescriptions.
Fifteen VA patients died of opiate overdoses under his care.
Last year, an extensive report by the Center for Investigative Reporting and the VA’s inspector general uncovered outrageous opiate abuses at a VA hospital in Tomah, Wis., that had come to be known among its patients as “Candyland.” “There were outrageous refills, patients who told us they lost their drugs for the fifth time,” former chief pharmacist Ron Pelham told investigators.
One veteran, struggling with PTSD and alcohol addiction, sought treatment at the hospital, and his alcohol habit was cured with a prescription-drug habit. After he became a full-blown addict, he ended up committing an armed robbery and, as a condition of avoiding prison time, was ordered by the court to seek treatment — at the same VA hospital where he had become an addict in the first place.
That worked out about how you’d expect.
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