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The Times investigates prescription drug deaths [Video discussion]

November 15, 2012 |  7:55 am

FrontpageLos Angeles Times reporters Scott Glover and Lisa Girion will talk about their investigation into prescription drug deaths at 2 p.m. Thursday in a live video discussion.

Their article, which was published Sunday, revealed that in nearly half of the accidental deaths from prescription drugs in four Southern California counties, the deceased had a doctor's prescription for at least one drug that caused or contributed to the death.

The investigation, which relied largely on coroners’ records, identified 3,733 deaths that involved prescription drugs in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Ventura counties from 2006 through 2011. In 1,762 of those cases — 47% — drugs for which the deceased had a prescription were the sole cause or a contributing cause of death.

The reporters identified 71 Southern California physicians who prescribed drugs to three or more patients who later fatally overdosed. The doctors were primarily pain specialists, general practitioners and psychiatrists.

In response to the article, the chairman of a state Senate committee that oversees the Medical Board of California said this week that he would introduce a bill requiring coroners to report all prescription drug deaths to the agency — a move aimed at helping authorities identify doctors whose prescribing practices may be harming patients.

Readers can submit questions to the reporters at #asklatimes or below in the comments field.


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