A Bay Area transplant surgeon is free on bail after being charged with prescribing excessive amounts of drugs to a disabled hospital patient during his stay at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo. Prosecutors allege that the doctor did so in an attempt to accelerate the patient's death in order to recover his organs.
On July 30, the San Luis Obispo district attorney's Office announced that Dr. Hootan Roozrokh, 33, of San Francisco, was charged with three felonies related to the incident.
The charges include dependent adult abuse and administering a harmful substance.
Local prosecutors claim that Roozrokh committed the alleged crimes against Ruben Navarro on Feb. 3, 2006, when the doctor was sent to San Luis Obispo from the Bay Area with a surgical team from the California Transplant Donor Network to recover Navarro's organs.
According to a press release from the district attorney's office, Navarro, in his mid-20s, had suffered from multiple illnesses for the majority of his life and, in late January, suffered a cardiac and respiratory arrest, after which he was maintained on a respirator and had minimal brain function, but wasn't declared brain dead.
Roozrokh's attorney, M. Gerald Schwartzbach, said in a statement that his client "did not commit any crime" and "has unfairly been the subject of an 18-month witch hunt."
Schwartzbach said Roozrokh is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 14.
"Nothing that Dr. Roozrokh did or said at the hospital that night adversely affected the quality of Mr. Navarro's life or contributed to Mr. Navarro's eventual death," Schwartzbach wrote.
"He looks forward to the opportunity to clear his good name in a court of law and reestablish his reputation as a distinguished and respected surgeon."
If Roozrokh is found guilty of all charges, he could face up to eight years in state prison.
Navarro's mother filed a lawsuit against Roozrokh and Sierra Vista as well as its parent company, Tenet Corp., last month.