The Department of Veterans Affairs VA Hospital in Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.
The Department of Veterans Affairs VA Hospital in Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.

A former resident anesthesiologist at the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles, who injected himself with sedatives and a powerful painkiller and then passed out in an operating room, pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges.

Dr. Jason G. Hirsch entered a plea to misdemeanor counts of theft of public property and possession of a controlled substance, both dealing with the sedative ketamine, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.

Hirsch faces up to three years in federal prison and a $200,000 fine when sentenced Sept. 23.

An attorney for Hirsch and a VA representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to his own statement of facts, Hirsch — who apparently is now employed at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center — arrived at the VA facility early on Sept. 5, 2012, to prepare for two scheduled surgeries.

Feeling anxious about a presentation he was expected to deliver, Hirsch took several tablets of the sedative clonazepam, which he said he obtained from a family friend, according to the document, which was filed Friday.

He then went to the dispensary to obtain medications needed for the the first surgery, and checked out ketamine; midazolam, a depressant known by the trade name Versed; and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate, the document states.

“In the operating room, at some point during the procedure, I put a tourniquet on my left forearm and injected myself with ketamine, midazolam (Versed) and fentanyl,” he said in the document. “I then lost consciousness and fell to the ground, striking my head. Hospital personnel found empty vials of fentanyl, midazolarn, ketamine and flumazenil in the operating room. They also found three unlabeled, uncapped syringes with medicine in them.”

An investigative report was submitted in 2013 to the California Medical Board, which stated on its website that an “accusation” had been filed against Hirsch, but the doctor had not yet had a hearing before the board.

An operator at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center indicated Hirsch worked at the hospital.

City News Service

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