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Friday, March 21, 2014

OC Pain Doctor Faces Disciplinary Action and Possible Criminal Charges

The Medical Board of California alleges that a Huntington Beach doctor, Dr. Van H. Vu, caused the death of three patients by negligently prescribing them powerful narcotics. The Board is seeking to suspend or revoke the license of Dr. Van H. Vu, who was linked to more than a dozen patient overdose deaths by a Los Angeles Times investigation in 2012.

The 15-page complaint, made public Friday, cites 17 causes for discipline, which include instances of gross negligence, incompetence, and failure to maintain adequate records.

The complaint alleged Vu was grossly negligent in the deaths of a 21-year-old woman Jennifer Thurber of Fountain Valley, a 43-year-old mentally ill man who was prescribed drugs by Vu the day he was released from a hospital after an earlier overdose, and a 51-year-old single father who became addicted to pain drugs after a car accident.  Each death had been detailed in The Times' investigation. In 2012, the Los Angeles Times analyzed the fatal overdoses of prescription medication and found Vu linked to 17 patient deaths.

The medical board said Vu failed to address signs of trouble in all three cases cited in its complaint. The board alleges Vu continued prescribing addictive pain drugs, representing "extreme" departures from good medicine.

Jennifer Thurber, a patient referred to in the board's complaint, is alleged to be one of three that died as a result of Vu’s gross negligence. Thurber began seeing the doctor after being diagnosed with cervical cancer and suffering from abdominal and lower back pain. Vu allegedly prescribed Thurber pain medication, despite reports that Thurber was reacting adversely to the medication, which contradicts notes from Dr. Vu who continued to prescribe Thurber Methadone.  Thurber died May 23, 2007. The complaint states that the cause of death was an overdose of opioids.


In addition to the medical board action, Orange County prosecutors are considering potential criminal charges against Vu, said Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff for Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas. She declined to provide details of the matter other than to say the review was ongoing.

A criminal conviction is costly. You may serve time in prison, you may have your license revoked, your career and family life will be disrupted, and your record will be stained by such convictions. Our goal at Brower and Associates is to provide an aggressive and comprehensive defense to those accused of a crime throughout Orange County. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact Brower and Associates today. 
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