An investigation has found that for more than a year while he was dean of USC’s medical school, Dr. Carmen Puliafito abused drugs on days he worked as an eye doctor in university facilities, seeing patients “within hours of using methamphetamine.”
Puliafito consumed heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs on a near- daily basis at the Keck School of Medicine campus and elsewhere, and he supplied drugs to other people, including a teenager and a patient in an addiction treatment facility, according to a filing that details the results of an investigation conducted for the Medical Board of California, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
Between February 2015 and November 2016, Puliafito used drugs with a circle of addicts, prostitutes and other criminals. The conduct persisted after he stepped down as dean in March 2016 and continued practicing medicine as a member of the faculty, according to the filing.
A Los Angeles Times investigation in July first sparked the state probe. It may have serious implications for both Puliafito, who could lose his medical license, and the reputation of the university, which kept a troubled person in one of its most important and sensitive posts.
Arthur Caplan, the founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, said Puliafito’s alleged misconduct ranks among the worst cases against a physician that he has seen, The Times reported.
Puliafito, a once-renowned ophthalmologist who resigned as dean last year, could not be reached for comment. The attorney representing him before the medical board did not respond to a message seeking comment.
USC received complaints about Puliafito’s drinking and abusive treatment of colleagues, but administrators have said they were stunned by revelations of his drug use.
“… Until July of this year no university leader was aware of any illegal or illicit behavior by Carmen Puliafito and to date there have been no issues or complaints related to patient care.
“Once the university was aware of his illicit behavior, he was immediately removed from his patient care role and he is no longer employed by the university,” USC spokesman Charles Sipkins said Wednesday in a statement.
—City News Service
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