Hsiu-Ying Tseng 30 Years

Published: February 7, 2016

Hsiu-Ying Tseng 30 Years, Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the murders of three of her patients who fatally overdosed, making Tseng the first doctor to be convicted of murder in the United States for overprescribing drugs.

Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the murders of three of her patients who fatally overdosed, making Tseng the first doctor to be convicted of murder in the United States for overprescribing drugs.

A judge on Friday sentenced a Rowland Heights doctor to 30 years to life in prison for the murders of three of her patients who fatally overdosed, ending a landmark case that some medical experts say could reshape how doctors nationwide handle prescriptions.

The sentence came after a Los Angeles jury last year found Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng guilty of second-degree murder, the first time a doctor had been convicted of murder in the United States for overprescribing drugs, the district attorney’s office said.

Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli said before sentencing Tseng that she had attempted to blame patients, pharmacists and other doctors rather than take responsibility for her own actions.

“It seems to be an attempt to put the blame on someone else,” he said. “Very irresponsible.”

Tseng, wearing blue jail scrubs, apologized to the victims’ families, her family and “medical society.”

“I’m really terribly sorry,” she said, before addressing the courtroom audience, which was crowded with victims’ relatives. “I have been and forever will be praying for you. May God bless all of you and grant comfort to all who have been affected by my actions.”

April Rovero, whose son, Joey, died after mixing alcohol with Xanax and oxycodone he had obtained from Tseng, sat expressionless, listening to Tseng’s first public show of remorse.

“It feels too late,” Rovero said outside the courtroom. “But it was better to hear something than nothing.”

Rovero, who founded the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse after her son’s death, praised the judge’s decision.

“Justice has been served,” she said.

Tseng, 46, who was a general practitioner, is among a small but growing number of doctors charged with murder for prescribing painkillers that killed patients. A Florida doctor was acquitted of first-degree murder in September.

Some experts fear that Tseng’s conviction will usher in a precarious new reality — a scenario in which doctors fearful of prosecution are hesitant to prescribe potent painkillers to patients who need them.

Attorney Peter Osinoff, who represented Tseng before the state medical board, told the judge during Friday’s hearing that the doctor no longer represents a danger to society since she surrendered her medical license in 2012.

The trial had already had a “deterrent effect” on other doctors and has captured the medical community’s attention.

“More primary care physicians no longer accept or treat chronic pain patients in their practice,” he told the judge.

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