Psychiatrist Daryl Westerback arrested twice in 3 months on suspicion of driving under influence of drugs
June 11, 2013
A Thousand Oaks (California) psychiatrist who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs twice in three months is being investigated for treating patients while impaired and overprescribing pain killers, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
Dr. Daryl Westerback, 55, recently surrendered his Drug Enforcement Administration registration to sheriff’s investigators and can no longer prescribe opiate medications, said Assistant Sheriff Gary Pentis.
Officials said an investigation indicated that he had treated patients while impaired on prescription drugs. In addition, officials found that a man who died of an overdose last March had just seen Westerback and the death is being further investigated, Pentis said.
Westerback specializes on a variety of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and manic depression, according to his website.
He could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The California Medical Board lists Westerback’s license as renewed and current.
The investigation into Westerback began March 8 when he was involved in a crash in Thousand Oaks. He was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of an opiate and child endangerment, officials said.
On Wednesday, he was arrested again on suspicion of DUI after a narcotics detective spotted him driving suspiciously. While toxicology results are pending in his second arrest, the symptoms suggest that Westerback was also under the influence of an opiate, Pentis said.
He was released from Ventura County jail on Thursday and is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 29.
Westerback allegedly has been overprescribing pain medication to patients, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and Vicodin.
“It is highly unusual for a psychiatrist to be involved in that kind of practice,” Pentis said.
Westerback has been interviewed by the Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit, which was created last month in response to the increasing problem of prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction in the East County, according to Pentis.
Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks police, along with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, have joined forces to prosecute “doctors who are operating as drug dealers,” Pentis said in providing a general description of the unit.
“We operate throughout the county,” he added.
The California Medical Board and the DEA are assisting in the investigation and are part of the local task force, officials said.
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