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Pill Mill Doctor Goes Down for 30 Years

After the Vietnam War tens of thousands of injured soldiers came home, some with major long term injuries. An unusually high number became addicted to opioids. As a result, thinking on the prescribing of pain medication shifted towards very conservative provision of pain meds. In the early 2000’s medical research found that pain actually inhibited healing and recovery. Patients who were under-prescribed pain medication took substantially longer to recover than patients receiving larger doses. This led to new pain management strategies, and an admission by the medical profession that it really didn’t make any difference if a dying cancer patient became an addict.

This new rationality has helped.  BTx3 had major open heart surgery a few years ago. I can tell you from time spent in that recovery ward that it is amazing people get up from that. The morning after the operation they get you up and walk you around (complete with a couple of carts of tubes and IVs attached to your body trailing along). Of course you are so zorked out from the pain medication you can’t feel the pain. After four days of that, I refused to take the pain meds anymore. The effects of the meds bothered me worse than the pain from a 12″ hole in my chest and other assorted holes for tubes in my stomach, thigh, and legs. Yeah it hurt, but it wasn’t debilitating. Which makes me believe that some folks may be less susceptible to pain medication addiction than others, and such may just be genetic. Science knows that alcohol addiction is passed down by generation – perhaps the same is true for other types of addiction? They sent me home with a bottle full of Oxycontin. I never opened it and threw it away.

The following remarkably sympathetic article about a Dr in LA whose patients were overdosing and dying on pain meds misses one key point. Over-prescription may result ina Dr’s patients becoming addicted. It is a known risk in any aggressive pain management strategy. Prescribing large quantities of drugs to addicted users far beyond that needed to support their well being, and or people who are going to sell those drugs on the illegal market…Is a crime just like that of any street corner drug pusher.

The only differences being, the Drug Pusher doesn’t have a fancy degree from a top University, and nobody claims the Pusher isn’t in the business of crime. They are both i it for the money!

Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, unidentified heroin dealer…One and the same.

Doctor gets 30 years to life for murders in L.A. case tied to patients’ overdoses

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 U.S. for overprescribing drugs.

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.”

The 46-year-old former 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.

Outside the courtroom, Osinoff said Tseng’s prosecution has had a negative impact on physicians and patients.

“The doctors are scared out of their minds,” he said. “The pendulum has swung so far. The people who need [pain medication] can’t get it now.”

Other medical experts have echoed his concerns since Tseng was charged in 2012.

“When you use the word ‘murder,’” said Dr. Peter Staats, president of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, “of course it’s going to have a chilling effect.”

Staats said he believes an aggressive medical board – not prosecutors – should go after reckless doctors. But, he added, any doctor who is prescribing pills knowing that they are being abused or diverted shouldn’t be called a doctor.

“That’s not the practice of medicine,” Staats said.

Dr. Francis Riegler, a pain specialist who works in Palmdale, said he has followed Tseng’s case and talked about the prosecution with fellow doctors across the country.

“We agree,” he said, “that if you’re doing the right thing – if you’re one of the good guys, if you will – you don’t need to worry about being prosecuted for murder.”

During Tseng’s trial, Deputy Dist. Atty. John Niedermann told jurors that there were “red flags” in her prescribing habits.

More than a dozen times, the prosecutor said, a coroner’s or law enforcement official called with the same stark message: “Your patient has died.”

Her prescribing habits, Niedermann said, remained unchanged.

The prosecutor told jurors that Tseng wrote a man’s name on prescriptions so his wife could get twice as many pills, openly referred to her patients as “druggies” and sometimes made up medical records.

Her motivation, Niedermann said, was financial.

Between 2007, when Tseng joined the Rowland Heights clinic where her husband worked, and 2010, tax returns show that their office made $5 million, he said.

Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said the conviction sent an unflinching message to medical professionals.

“In this case,” Lacey said, “the doctor stole the lives of three young people in her misguided effort to get rich quick.”

Tseng was convicted of murder for the deaths of Vu Nguyen, 28, of Lake Forest; Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert; and Joey Rovero, 21, an Arizona State University student who prosecutors say traveled more than 300 miles with friends from Tempe, Ariz., to obtain prescriptions from Tseng at her Rowland Heights clinic.

The jury also found Tseng guilty on more than a dozen illegal-prescribing counts.

 

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in American Genocide

 

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Epidemics in Black and White…The End of the War on Drugs

The “crack epidemic” of the late 80’s and early 90’s is over. One of the key racial hypocrisies of the response to the epidemic was to make sentences for possessing “crack”, used by black folks, about 5 times worse than cocaine, the same drug – used by whites.

Now we have a “heroin epidemic”, but the legal and legislative response is almost invisible. Indeed, you wouldn’t even know this was going on if you watched the evening news.

That’s because about 90% of the new addicts are white, don’t live in the city…And start using heroin as a cheaper substitute to the drugs they have been stealing out of Mommy and Daddy’s bathroom cabinet.

The move now is to “treat” addicts.

Having some experience in dealing with that with a friend – that is one long hard road. I went to some of those meetings in support, about 5 years ago, and was stunned by what I saw. I remember years ago the streets of downtown Baltimore being covered by heroin addicts – mostly black, mostly from the ghetto. Baltimore during the 8070′ through the 90’s had the largest population of addicted in any major city. These folks at the the new meeting were mostly white, mostly the addicts were kids under the age of 25, and we mostly from middle class families. And it is driving ancillary crime in rural and suburban areas to support their habits.

But heaven forbid we fill the jails with white addicts.

The end of the senseless “War on Drugs”, is indeed all about racial politics.

A photo of Courtney Griffin, who died of a heroin overdose in 2014, with her sister Shannon, left, and her mother, Pamela.

In Heroin Crisis, White Families Seek Gentler War on Drugs

When Courtney Griffin was using heroin, she lied, disappeared and stole constantly from her parents to support her $400-a-day habit. Her family paid her debts, never filed a police report and kept her addiction secret — until she was found dead last year of an overdose.

At Courtney’s funeral, they decided to acknowledge the reality that redefined their lives: Their bright, beautiful daughter, just 20, who played the French horn in high school and dreamed of living in Hawaii, had been kicked out of the Marines for drugs. Eventually, she overdosed at her boyfriend’s grandmother’s house, where she died alone.

“When I was a kid, junkies were the worst,” Doug Griffin, 63, Courtney’s father, recalled in their comfortable home here in southeastern New Hampshire. “I used to have an office in New York City. I saw them.”

Noting that “junkies” is a word he would never use now, he said that these days, “they’re working right next to you and you don’t even know it. They’re in my daughter’s bedroom — they are my daughter.”

When the nation’s long-running war against drugs was defined by the crack epidemic and based in poor, predominantly black urban areas, the public response was defined by zero tolerance and stiff prison sentences. But today’s heroin crisis is different. While heroin use has climbed among all demographic groups, it has skyrocketed among whites; nearly 90 percent of those who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were white.

And the growing army of families of those lost to heroin — many of them in the suburbs and small towns — are now using their influence, anger and grief to cushion the country’s approach to drugs, from altering the language around addiction to prodding government to treat it not as a crime, but as a disease.

“Because the demographic of people affected are more white, more middle class, these are parents who are empowered,” said Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, better known as the nation’s drug czar. “They know how to call a legislator, they know how to get angry with their insurance company, they know how to advocate. They have been so instrumental in changing the conversation.”

Mr. Botticelli, a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for 26 years, speaks to some of these parents regularly.

Their efforts also include lobbying statehouses, holding rallies and starting nonprofit organizations, making these mothers and fathers part of a growing backlash against the harsh tactics of traditional drug enforcement. These days, in rare bipartisan or even nonpartisan agreement, punishment is out and compassion is in.

The presidential candidates of both parties are now talking about the drug epidemic, with Hillary Rodham Clinton hosting forums on the issue as Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina tell their own stories of loss while calling for more care and empathy.

Families meet at a Counseling Session and pray for their family members and friends who are addicted.

Last week, President Obama traveled to West Virginia, a mostly white state with high levels of overdoses, to discuss his $133 million proposal to expand access for drug treatment and prevention programs. The Justice Department is also preparing to release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prisons as part of an effort to roll back the severe penalties issued to nonviolent drug dealers in decades past.

And in one of the most striking shifts in this new era, some local police departments have stopped punishing many heroin users. In Gloucester, Mass., those who walk into the police station and ask for help, even if they are carrying drugs or needles, are no longer arrested. Instead, they are diverted to treatment, despite questions about the police departments’ unilateral authority to do so. It is an approach being replicated by three dozen other police departments around the country.

“How these policies evolve in the first place, and the connection with race, seems very stark,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which examines racial issues in the criminal justice system.

Still, he and other experts said, a broad consensus seems to be emerging: The drug problem will not be solved by arrests alone, but rather by treatment.

Parents like the Griffins say that while they recognize the racial shift in heroin use, politicians and law enforcement are responding in this new way because “they realized what they were doing wasn’t working.”

“They’re paying more attention because people are screaming about it,” Mr. Griffin said. “I work with 100 people every day — parents, people in recovery, addicts — who are invading the statehouse, doing everything we can to make as much noise as we can to try to save these kids.”

An Epidemic’s New Terrain

Heroin’s spread into the suburbs and small towns grew out of an earlier wave of addiction to prescription painkillers; together the two trends are ravaging the country…

Deaths from heroin rose to 8,260 in 2013, quadrupling since 2000 and aggravating what some were already calling the worst drug overdose epidemic in United States history.

Over all, drug overdoses now cause more deaths than car crashes, with opioids like OxyContin and other pain medications killing 44 people a day….Read the Rest Here

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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