The Medical Board of California, which regulates physicians, has decided to strip former USC Medical School Dean Dr. Carmen Puliafito of his license to practice medicine as a result of an investigation into his “appalling lack of judgment” in reportedly using drugs, associating with criminals and prostitutes and providing them with drugs.
Puliafito, who is a Pasadena resident, came under scrutiny after the Los Angeles Times published an expose in which the overdose of a 21-year-old prostitute named Sarah Warren in a Pasadena hotel played a major role.
“His failure to seek appropriate treatment for [Warren] when she suffered an overdose and his misstatements to medical personnel constitute shocking behavior by a physician,” Administrative Law Judge Jill Schlichtmann wrote.
The Medical Board said it was adopting Judge Schlichtmann’s findings. The judge heard days of testimony from an investigation conducted after the March 2, 2016 incident at a Pasadena hotel.
Judge Schlichtmann’s ruling does not go into effect until August and Puliafito has the right to appeal, a Los Angeles Times report said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that during the hearing Puliafito and his attorney Peter Osinoff said Puliafito suffered from bipolar disorder and a “hypomanic” state which affected his perceptions and judgment. They said he was in recovery and should be allowed to practice medicine under supervision.
Questions were raised after the Times investigation was published as to why Pasadena police called to Warren’s overdose didn’t question Puliafito more closely, and perhaps detain or arrest him since the incident occurred in a room he had rented.
The City reviewed the procedures taken by officers in response to the incident, and in the end reported the department had taken “positive steps” to fully investigate and report their findings.
The Medical Board decision comes a year after the Los Angeles Times published a series that detailed Puliafito’s alleged drug use, specifically of methamphetamine and heroin. The series prompted the state to investigate his background and raise the issue to the state regulatory agency.