Luong Pham Accused of Gross Negligence In Psychiatric Treatment of Inmates, Surrenders Medical License

Categories: Doctor's Orders
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Amid accusations of gross negligence in his medical treatment of six inmates and his admission of inadequate record keeping, an Irvine-based doctor's license was surrendered Tuesday. 

Dr. Luong Pham, who voluntarily surrendered his license, "lost all rights and privileges as a doctor in California," according to the "decision and order" document housed on the Medical Board of California's website.  

The accusations stem from his treatment, ranging from October 2003 to June 2008, of six inmates at the state prison in Tehachapi.

All six patients had psychiatric problems--including schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Depressive Disorder. Pham, whose primary area of practice was psychiatry, is accused of insufficient evaluation of their disorders, doubling drug doses without knowledge of previous dosages and keeping insufficient medical records, the document says.

For example, Pham evaluated patient "D.D.H." in October of 2004. An evaluation of Pham's notes from that day showed "an incomplete and inadequate mental status examination." Pham didn't consider a differential diagnosis or a plan for psychiatric care, the medical board found, or at least he didn't document that he did. He did, however, double D.D.H's Lithium dose, without knowing the previous dosage. The patient died in custody nine days after being evaluated by Pham.

According to the "culpability" section of the document, Pham, who waived his right to an attorney, admitted only to the fourth cause of discipline--the one about inadequate medical records.

For the sake of avoiding the "expense and uncertainty" of ongoing legal proceedings, and because he saw that the Board "could establish a factual basis" for the fourth case, which would result in "cause for discipline" anyway, he voluntarily surrendered his license. 

If he ever tries to reinstate his license, however, all the aforementioned accusations would be deemed "true, correct and admitted," and the Board would take that into account before deciding whether to grant or deny the petition.

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