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Doctor who co-wrote Beach Boys classic gives up license

A doctor who co-wrote a popular 1960s song performed by the Beach Boys has surrendered his medical license after medical authorities accused him of prescribing medications for himself.

Dr. Donald Jay Altfeld called in prescriptions for himself for drugs including Xanax and Norco, the Medical Board of California alleged in a 17-page decision made public Monday.

Altfeld co-wrote the song “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena,” which was performed by the Beach Boys and included in their No. 1 album “Beach Boys Concert” from 1964. The song was first recorded by the duo Jan & Dean and reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart.

Two days after a Target pharmacist in Ventura refused to fill a prescription in July 2010 that Altfeld called in for himself, he asked a patient to take a prescription, written in the patient’s name, to that Target to obtain medications for Altfeld’s use, according to the decision.

In July 2011, Altfeld was examined by a psychiatrist appointed by the medical board and determined to be a drug abuser, mentally ill and unable to “practice medicine safely,” the decision states.

Altfeld was hospitalized multiple times for mental illness, according to the board. During one hospital admission in 2010, “he was bizarre and illogical; he was rambling, intrusive and very paranoid,” the decision states.

Altfeld was interviewed by medical board investigators in a Ventura motel room in which he lived last year. The room smelled, and the bed mattress was stained with blood, according to the board.

Altfeld, who has been licensed in California since 1991, represented himself during the medical board proceedings. He could not be reached for comment.

Once a doctor surrenders his or her license, “there isn’t really much more we can do” for him or her “other than encourage or counsel him to get help,” said Dan Wood, a spokesman for the medical board. Wood had not yet read the decision.


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--Hailey Branson-Potts

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