Washington State suspends psychiatrist's license after patient's death; prescribed 13 psychotropic drugs

December 20, 2007

On December 20, 2007 the State of Washington Department of Health summarily suspended psychiatrist Andrew S. Hwang's license, citing unprofessional conduct which placed a 17-year-old patient "at significant risk of harm and possibly caused her death."  Dr. Hwang prescribed 13 psychotropic drugs to the patient in a two-month period prior to her death. Among Dr. Hwang's failures: He prescribed one tricyclic antidepressant that carries a high risk of cardiotoxicity without obtaining the patient's blood levels for the drug; he at the same time prescribed a calcium blocking drug that also affects cardiac function and presents heart risks but failed to monitor her vital signs or get an EKG; he failed to evaluate the patient for toxicity when the patient reported adverse effects including mental confusion and poor coordination; he put the patient at further risk by prescribing two additional medications—a stimulant and a tranqilizer—that not only were contraindicated based on side effects she was already experiencing, but the two drugs contraindicated eachother. The Board found that Dr. Hwang continued to engage in such dangerous practices—excessive prescribing, no monitoring, no heed of contraindications—following the death of the patient.1

1 Ex Parte Order of Summary Suspension In the Matter of Andrew S. Hwang, M.D., Docket No. 07-10-A-1087MD, State of Washington Department of Health.


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