Physician Sentenced to 30 Years to Life for Murder

PrintSouthern California doctor was convicted of second-degree murder for over-prescribing pain medications. 

SACRAMENTO – A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered osteopathic physician Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng to serve 30 years to life in prison in the death of three patients.

The sentence follows Tseng’s conviction in October 2015, when a jury found her guilty of second-degree murder for over-prescribing pain medications which resulted in patient deaths.

Tseng’s case, filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, marks the first time in the U.S. that a doctor was convicted of murder for over-prescribing medications.  The conviction has been hailed as a landmark case that may have far-reaching effects on the way doctors prescribe pain medications.

At least nine of Tseng’s patients died over a three year period, but murder charges were only filed in three of those deaths. Tseng was notified that patients had died in 2007 and 2008, but continued to over-prescribe and three additional patients died in 2009.

Tseng was also convicted of 19 counts of illegally writing prescriptions, including two prescriptions she wrote for undercover investigators, and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

Investigators from the California Department of Consumer Affairs and special agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency investigated Tseng after pharmacies reported concerns about Tseng’s prescribing and the coroner’s office made reports of the suspicious patient deaths.  After investigators contacted Tseng, she began to falsify the records of some of the patients who had died.

Tseng’s osteopathic physician license had been suspended since March 14, 2012.  In a 118-page accusation dated February 3, 2012, the Osteopathic Medical Board charged Tseng with gross negligence, repeated negligent acts, dishonest and corrupt acts, excessive prescribing, unprofessional conduct, false documentation, issuing controlled substance prescriptions for an illegitimate purpose, incompetence, aiding and abetting unlicensed activity and failing to maintain adequate and accurate records.

Angie Burton, executive director of the Osteopathic Medical Board, said, “The board’s mission is to protect consumers and promote the highest professional standards in the practice of osteopathic medicine. The board vigorously investigated and pursued this case and believes that justice has been done.”

To view the Osteopathic Medical Board Accusation and Surrender, click here.

To view the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s conviction press release, click here.

To view the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s sentencing press release, click here.