On Friday, Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng, convicted of murdering three of her patients by drug overdose, was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison, making her the only US doctor ever convicted of murder for recklessly prescribing meds, the lead prosecutor said. Although her defense team portrayed the Southern California doctor as a helpful physician sucked in by "manipulative" patients, per CNN, she was accused of writing out Rxs for patient who paid in cash, not offering thorough medical exams, and ignoring family members who begged her to stop writing prescriptions. "It seems to be an attempt to put the blame on someone else," LA Superior Court Judge George Lomeli chastised the 46-year-old during her sentencing, per the Los Angeles Times. "Very irresponsible."
And the charges against Tseng for the deaths of 21-year-old Joey Rovero, 25-year-old Steven Ogle, and 28-year-old Vu Nguyen weren't the first red flags: Three other young men had ODed in 2007 and 2008 after she supplied them with prescriptions from her strip-mall clinic, the prosecution noted—and they drove a long way to get to her, with one of the victims making a two-hour round trip. Meanwhile, an attorney who had represented Tseng in front of the state medical board says that her prosecution (and now sentencing) has had a frightening effect on doctors who just want the best for their patients. "The doctors are scared out of their minds," he tells the Times. "The pendulum has swung so far. The people who need [pain medication] can't get it now."