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Doctor who overprescribed opioids gets up to life in prison

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A California doctor convicted of murder for prescribing unnecessary painkillers has been sentenced to spend 30 years to life in California prison.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury in late October found Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng guilty of three counts of second-degree murder, 19 counts of unlawful controlled substance prescription and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, among other charges.

Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli sentenced Dr. Tseng on Friday to spend 30 years to life in prison, according to a statement Friday from the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.

Dr. Tseng's conviction and sentencing was based on the 2009 prescription drug overdose deaths of Vu Nguyen, 28; Steven Ogle, 24; and Joseph Rovero, 21.

Prosecutors said Dr. Tseng prescribed “massive quantities of addictive and dangerous drugs” to the men, though they had “no legitimate need” for the drugs, according to an October statement from the L.A. District Attorney's Office.

CNN reported Friday that Dr. Tseng apologized in court to the families of the three men.

“I cannot imagine what you have gone through,” she is quoted as saying by CNN. “I have been — and will forever be — praying for all of you.”

The district attorney's office said Friday that nine of Dr. Tseng's patients died in less than three years, and that she took in more than $5 million from her clinic by “dispensing potent and addictive drugs unabated.”

Workers compensation experts say efforts to hold doctors liable for irresponsible opioid prescribing practices, in tandem with using safe prescribing guidelines, could help reduce opioid addiction and overdoses among workers comp patients.