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Dog X-rays Bite Doctor; License Suspended

September 21, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Medical Ethics, Musculoskeletal Radiology
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A California physician has had his license suspended after prescribing addictive drugs to an undercover sheriff’s deputy based on X-rays of her dog.

Rolando Lodevico Atiga, MD, 69, practiced internal medicine at an urgent-care clinic in Glendora, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. The California Medical Board fully suspended his license on August 31 after Dr. Atiga failed to appear at two hearings.

The doctor was arrested in August after an investigation by Glendora police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force. Glendora Police Captain Timothy Staab told the Los Angeles Times:

He was well-known among drug addicts and prescription medication addicts. He was the doctor to go to.

Three undercover sheriff’s deputies did in fact go to Dr. Atiga. He prescribed drugs to each of them, authorities said. One deputy told the doctor she had been in a car accident several weeks previously and needed “something way stronger” than the Tylenol she supposedly was taking for the pain caused by her supposed injuries.

To back her story, she pulled out two X-rays of, she said, her hips. In reality, they were X-rays of her German shepherd, Recon. The dog’s name and the name of the animal hospital that took the X-rays were listed on the back of the films. You can see one of them in this London Daily Mail report, clearly showing Recon’s tail.

The doctor actually examined the X-rays. In the deputy’s secret recording of her visit, the doctor says, “That’s the hip joint right there.”

He gave the deputy a choice of powerful painkillers and tranquilizers: “Do you want to try Vicodin ES? Or do you want to try others? … Roxicodone? Or oxycodone? … Or whatever you want. Maybe some Valium or Xanax?”

She picked Roxicodone.

Staab said patients paid $200 to $400 for their prescriptions. He said Dr. Atiga also suggested that they give his receptionist a $50 tip “for her time and troubles.”

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