[UPDATED with USC Clarifies:] Dr. Van Vu of California Pain Center in Fountain Valley Probed for String of 16 Patient Deaths

Categories: Doctor's Orders
See the update at the end of this post, where the University of Southern California clarifies the doctor's ties to the LA institution.

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ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 15, 3:16 P.M.: The Medical Board of California has launched an investigation into 16 deaths connected to powerful narcotics prescribed by a Fountain Valley pain-management specialist. The board's investigators have reportedly received permission from the families of the deceased to examine the medical records of the cases of Dr. Van Vu of California Pain Center.

The Los Angeles Times, which gets the scoop, quotes Vu's attorney saying his client is cooperating with investigators and that he was unaware of many of the deaths.

Vu had previously told the Times the treatment of some chronic pain sufferers is complicated by drug abuse and depression.

Here is Dr. Vu's online bio:

Dr. Van Vu has dedicated his medical career to treat patients suffering with pain. He graduated from the University of Washington School of Medicine and completed his anesthesiology residency at LAC/USC Medical Center. He obtained his advanced pain management training at the University of Washington Multidisciplinary Pain Center in Seattle, which offers the country's oldest and most respected pain fellowship program.

In addition, Dr. Vu is board certified by both the American Boards of Pain Medicine and Anesthesiology; and he has earned a Certificated of Added Qualifications in Pain Management. He is a member of the International Association for the Study of Pain, the American Pain Society, and also a board member of the American Cancer Society. Dr. Vu is an assistant clinical professor in the department of anesthesiology and pain management at the University of Southern California.

UPDATE, FEB. 20, 7:50 A.M.: Alison Trinidad, RN, a media-relations representative with USC Health Sciences, emailed the Weekly the following in reference to Dr. Van Vu's ties to the university:

Please note that Dr. Van Vu is not affiliated with the University of Southern California, despite the bio he has posted on the California Pain Center website. He is NOT an assistant clinical professor at USC and has had no connection to USC since the mid-1990s.

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Condolences to the families involved. But I feel that this doctor is being unfairly "chastised".  The doctor's job is to instruct the patient to take the drugs a certain way and warning the patient of adverse effects or death if not taken as directed.  If the patient on his/her own...decides to take double or triple the dosage....then can we still blame the doctor?

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