When we reported last year that Dr. Dinh Truong Nguyen had restrictions placed on his Garden Grove practice by the Medical Board of California, which also ordered the family medicine specialist to get substance-abuse help, we noted that public documents from the case did not offer many more specifics than that.
With the board having placed Nguyen’s license to practice medicine on probation for seven years effective July 7, we now know more about the serious (and tragic) case against the Seal Beach resident. “On Aug. 13, 2015, Respondent pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated,” said state investigators, who added he was sentenced to a year in jail, five years probation and prohibition of driving privileges for three years.
On April 3, 2013, Nguyen ran a red light in Garden Grove and drove a Toyota 4Runner head on into an oncoming car, killing the other driver. The doctor never got out of his vehicle to help. When a police officer approached the 4Runner and asked Nguyen what happened, the doctor replied he’d run a red light and believed he “spaced out.” Nguyen was slow, lethargic and fumbled to pull out his wallet. When the cop asked why Nguyen did not get out to help the other driver, he replied he did not “feel right” with himself.
Nguyen told another responding officer that he was taking Advair for asthma, Cymbalta for depression and Nasonex and Intermezzo for insomnia. Upon inspection of the doctor’s vehicle, officers found several prescription medication packets for Celebrex, Lunesta, Nasonex, Solodyn and Edluar. He had droopy and bloodshot eyes and after failing several field sobriety tests he was arrested and locked up. At the station he told a jailer that he had taken Intermezzo two times the night before the collision and Cymbalta that same morning. He added that he normally only takes one sleeping pill and that the medication makes him loopy and “it’s kind of dangerous to be honest with you.” You think?
The conviction and misuse of dangerous drugs makes Nguyen subject to the medical board discipline. An agreement signed by Nguyen and his lawyer Mark S. Rafferty acknowledges these conditions of probation: The doctor must obey all laws, abstain from using alcohol and controlled substances and undergo random drug tests. He must perform 100 hours of free community service, undergo a medical evaluation and take an ethics course. He must be monitored by a third party while practicing medicine and inform all hospitals and facilities where he has privileges of his probation status. He cannot supervise physician assistants.
Failure to comply with the probation conditions could cost Nguyen his license permanently.