A disgraced doctor pleaded guilty to three charges of manslaughter last week in Queens, according to The New York Daily News, Indicted on felony charges last year, Dr. Lawrence Choy ran a ‘pill mill’ out of his Queens office from 2012 to 2016. The former doctor routinely prescribed the so-called ‘Holy Trinity’ of drugs to his patients – an opioid, a benzodiazepine, and a muscle relaxer. All three medications are both extremely addictive and extremely dangerous because of their ability to suppress breathing and cause an overdose. Tragically, Dr. Choy’s reckless prescribing habits caused three of his patients to fatally overdose.
After the deaths of his patients, Dr. Choy closed his medical practice and fled to Wyoming. The long-distance move did not matter to federal authorities who charged Dr. Choy with 231 crimes last year in a complaint detailing the doctor’s recklessness and indifference to his patient’s suffering. According to prosecutors, Choy’s pill mill in Queens was popular across the entire northeast – patients from New Jersey and Pennsylvania routinely made the trip just to visit Choy. According to federal prosecutors, Choy began doling out oxycodone prescriptions beginning in 2012 when Choy received a tax bill for more than $1 million. Once word got out that Choy would exchange prescriptions for cash, addicts would travel to the Queens doctor to get their fix and drug dealers would travel to get their supply. A single oxycodone pill prescribed by Choy could be sold for $30 on the street, less than the cost of a month’s prescription without insurance.
Unsurprisingly, the former doctor’s reckless prescribing habits ended up killing several patients. The three patients who died from overdosing on medication prescribed by Choy all had ‘legitimate pain issues,’ according to prosecutors. The patients, however, quickly became addicted.
After his patients were hooked, Choy enabled his patients’ drug problem by prescribing increasing amounts of opioids each month. Patients who wanted to reduce their dosage say Choy discouraged them. The criminal complaint against Choy says he regularly prescribed ‘potentially lethal combinations’ of medicine to his patients. DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt told ABC 7, “Dr. Choy’s blatant disregard to the practice of medicine became a parent’s worst nightmare and an opioid addict’s dream.” Agent Hunt then said Choy’s extensive drug-doling business would put him on the same level as “drug kingpins” who also push millions of pills into unsuspecting communities. In one of the deaths that Choy pleaded guilty to in Queens last week, the doctor had prescribed 720 oxycodone pills or 24 per day. New York City prosecutors say Choy will be sentenced on September 10.
Contact our medical malpractice attorneys to discuss your potential case.