California Physician Accused of Administering, Charging for Injections Containing Saline Rather than Drugs
An Orange County, Calif., physician has been accused of intravenously administering saline solution instead of AIDS drugs to HIV-positive patients for financial gain, the Orange County Register reports. Two lawsuits, one filed by former patient Bryan Noble and one filed by former employee Virgilio Opinion, allege that Dr. George Kooshian charged up to $7,000 per treatment in which he injected only saline solution. Noble said that he received four saline injections between August and October 2000, and Opinion, who has sued for wrongful termination, said he personally administered saline injections under Kooshian's directions. Eric Lampel, the attorney representing the two men who filed suits, said that Kooshian gave partial doses or no doses at all of various drugs to at least six AIDS patients since 1998. "It's monstrous for this doctor to have endangered the lives of his patients for financial gain. It's terrifying to me, and it transcends the bounds of decency," Lampel said. But Kooshian, a member of the HIV Committee Council of Orange County who is supported by many local AIDS activists, has "strongly denied" the accusations, saying, "I think there are other motives behind this." He said he never injected saline into patients and gave them "beneficial solutions of multi-vitamins" only when he "couldn't procure" the drugs. The Medical Board of California is investigating the allegations, but Kooshian is not facing criminal charges (Hardesty/Vardon, Orange County Register, 8/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.