Authorities move to revoke license of doctor linked to overdose deaths


Medical authorities have moved to revoke the license of a Rowland Heights physician whose practice was linked in a Times investigation to eight patient overdose deaths.

The Osteopathic Medical Board of California has accused Lisa Tseng of prescribing unsafe amounts of powerful narcotics to several patients based on little or no examination.

The accusation, made public Friday, alleges that Tseng was grossly negligent in her care of seven patients over several years, including one who was an undercover medical board investigator.


Tseng, the board said in the 55-page accusation, also failed to properly address signs of serious problems reported by her patients, such as chest pains. Instead, the board said, she answered their complaints by prescribing large quantities of addictive pain relievers, including oxycodone and hydrocodone.

A Times investigation published last year found that, since 2007, at least eight of her patients had died from overdoses of the same type of drugs she prescribed to them, according to coroner’s files and interviews. In addition, records and interviews revealed that Tseng prescribed narcotics to alleged dealers suspected of providing drugs to others, two of whom died of overdoses. The medical board’s accusation did not include any of those deaths as allegations.

“We want to get her license,” said Dr. Donald J. Krpan, executive director of the board. “I believe she belongs in jail. But that’s going to have to be another authority that does that.”

Krpan said he believed the board’s accusation provided a “good basis for a criminal authority to prosecute.”

Tseng is under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for allegedly running a pill mill — selling prescriptions to people without medical need — out of her storefront clinic in a mini-mall off the 60 Freeway. Investigators with the DEA and the medical board raided her office in August, hauling away boxes of documents and computers.

At the time, Tseng told The Times that she had done nothing wrong. Peter Osinoff, a lawyer for Tseng, said she plans to defend her license before the board.

April Rovero, a woman from the Bay Area city of San Ramon whose son Joey died of an overdose nine days after Tseng prescribed him oxycodone and two other drugs, said she was pleased the medical board took action. Rovero launched the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse after her son’s death and said it was important to revoke Tseng’s license to protect others and to “send a message to other dirty doctors out there that this type of medical practice will not be tolerated.”

The board accused Tseng of prescribing drugs in amounts above safety standards established by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

In the case of a 44-year-old woman identified as “Lana R.,” Tseng routinely wrote prescriptions for five narcotic pain relievers, including Norco and Percocet, that totaled 800 to 900 pills a month — “far exceeding FDA safety standards and toxicity levels,” the board said.

Tseng prescribed up to 1,080 hydrocodone tablets each month to “Laurie D.,” 44, and up to 500 tablets a month to 24-year-old “Clinton C.” — both in excess of safety standards, the board said.

All three patients complained of back pain, but Tseng’s computerized medical records show she did little to establish the cause of their pain or to treat it. Tseng also did not explain to her patients the risks of long-term narcotic use, the board alleged.

Times staff writer Scott Glover contributed to this report.