State investigators: Former USC Keck dean Dr. Carmen Puliafito saw patients 'within hours' of misusing drugs

An investigation conducted for The Medical Board of California revealed former Los Angeles-based Keck School of Medicine of USC Dean Carmen Puliafito, MD, "would return to his medical office to see patients within hours of using methamphetamine," the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to the results of the investigation obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Puliafito used drugs including heroin and methamphetamine almost every day while practicing as an ophthalmologist at university facilities and while on the Keck medical school campus. He also allegedly supplied drugs to other people, including a teenager and a patient at an addiction treatment facility, according to the filing.

The filing stated Dr. Puliafito "used drugs with a circle of addicts, prostitutes and other criminals" between February 2015 and November 2016, according to the Los Angeles Times. Medical board examiners alleged his conduct persisted after he stepped down as dean of the medical school in March 2016, but remained as a member of the school's faculty, according to the report.

The investigation cited one individual for whom Dr. Puliafito allegedly purchased methamphetamine and pipes for smoking the drug. The filing identified the individual as "C.W." In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the individual — Charles Warren, now 19 — said he visited Dr. Puliafito in his dean's suite at USC and later accompanied him to smoke methamphetamine in a campus parking structure, the report states.

Investigators also alleged Dr. Puliafito "maintained a secret compartment in his car to hold drugs," according to the report. Because of his alleged drug misuse, the former dean was reportedly banned from hotels in the Pasadena, Calif., area and elsewhere.

Reports of Dr. Puliafito's alleged behavior surfaced after a Los Angeles Times report in July. However, university officials had reportedly received complaints about Dr. Puliafito for at least five years prior to the report.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, a spokesperson for USC said, "As we have previously stated, until July of this year no university leader was aware of any illegal or illicit behavior by [Dr.] 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 initiated termination proceedings against Dr. Puliafito to remove him as a faculty member of the medical school in July. The former dean voluntarily agreed to surrender his medical license in September pending the state medical board's investigation. The medical board's executive director reportedly asked the board to hold a disciplinary hearing for Dr. Puliafito "to revoke or suspend [his medical] license," according to the filing.

To read the Los Angeles Times report, click here.

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