The News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington)
December 22, 2007 Saturday
SOUTH SOUND Edition
Girl’s death leads state to suspend doctor’s license
BYLINE: M. ALEXANDER OTTO
SECTION: SOUTH SOUND & LOCAL; Pg. B02
LENGTH: 236 words
The state medical board Friday suspended the license of a Tacoma psychiatrist after his alleged misuse of 13 medications over two months “possibly caused” the death of a 17-year-old girl under his care in 2002.
Messages left Friday by The News Tribune with the answering service and at the home of the psychiatrist, Dr. Andrew Hwang, were not returned.
State documents allege Harris prescribed a series of psychiatric and other types of medication to the girl, whose name was not released, and did not respond properly when she started to show severe side effects.
On Jan. 26, 2002, the documents state, the teen felt very confused, and did not feel well. The next morning, her parents found her in her room, stuperous and nonresponsive.
“She was taken to the hospital, where she was found to have suffered severe brain damage,” the documents state. “She was taken off life support and died Jan. 29.”
The case resulted in a malpractice lawsuit. The settlement of the suit was reported to the state in September 2006, leading to a state investigation, said Peter Harris, a staff attorney involved with the state Department of Health.
Hwang “has not changed the way he treats patients following (the girl’s) death,” the state alleged, making the suspension of license necessary.
He can appeal the state’s actions and seek reinstatement of his license, Harris said.