In an example of how the authorities are beginning to investigate (and prosecute) physicians who overprescribe medications, Doctor Hsui-Ying Tseng in Rowland Heights, California was recently charged with murder for the deaths of three young men that overdosed on prescription medications. One of her patients, Jospeh “Joey” Rovero, died from overdose only nine days after his first visit with Dr. Tseng. The autopsy report concluded that Joey had acute intoxication of Xanax and OxyContin. The combination of these drugs and alcohol made for a deadly cocktail.
According to records, Joey told Dr. Tseng that he was having pain and anxiety in his back, wrist, and hand. She gave him a partial examination and did not notate the hand that was in pain in his medical chart.
The Osteopathic Medical Board has noted many of Dr. Tseng’s (nicknamed “Dr. Feelgood“)missing steps in this medical case. The first worth mentioning, is that she failed to take a full patient history of the specific pain. Second, she did not notate any previous doctors in the patient file. Third, she did not give a consent form showing that Joey gave his informed consent for the treatment using these controlled substances.
Further investigations into her practice, show that she had been prescribing an average of 25 scripts a day, which for a small store front medical clinic, raised suspicions initially for prosecutors.
In order to prevent these tragic situations in the future, doctors need to provide their patients with the knowledge and information needed to take these prescription drugs safely and adequately. Since OxyContin is covered by many health insurance companies, it has been more easily put it into the hands of abusers. It carries a very high street price, but it fairly inexpensive if a patient’s health insurance will cover it.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is rare that a patient with a qualified physician will become addicted to drugs like Oxycontin if used in a legitimate way for medical purposes. The physicians should limit the prescriptions of these powerful pain medications in order to prevent addiction.
Patients who are not abusing their drugs do not show the euphoric side effects and are therefore less likely to become abusive with OxyContin. If more doctors can take these precautions, then hopefully less cases such as Joey’s will exist. If Joey had been under the proper physician’s care, then the doctor may have noticed signs of the abuse and would have then been able to help save Joey’s life.