Elvis Presley’s Drug Dealer Passes Away


Dr George Nichopoulos

Doctor spray-tan and the Elvis clan


Doctor George Constantine Nichopoulos — the drug-dealing physician who served as Elvis Presley’s personal “Dr. Feelgood” — passed away this week in Memphis, Tenn. He was 88.

The story goes that Elvis could never really pronounce his doctor’s last name, so over the years he just called him “St. Nick.” – as in . . . you know . . . Santa Klaus. Not because he was chubby and wore freaky red clothes. But because he was a cheerful, white-haired fellow who delivered all the fun nighttime presents on Elvis’ wish list. Fans of Elvis had more colorful words for the physician: hundreds of thousands of them blame Nickopoulos for Elvis’ shocking death at the age of only 42. That’s because it was later learned that Doctor Santa Klaus had written Elvis more than 200 prescriptions for 10,000 doses of drugsamphetamines, barbiturates, narcotics, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, laxatives, and hormones for Presley – in his last 8-months.Dr John Abramson

Ah, the finest “healthcare” money can buy.

So in 1980, 3 years after Elvis was found dead in his bathroom, the doctor was arrested, charged on 14 counts of overprescribing drugs to Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and 12 other people. The district attorney in Memphis initially considered that Murder charges were appropriate, but did not press forward because different doctors were expressing conflicting medical opinions on the exact cause of Presley’s death. Pressley had numerous medical problems. But some poor misguided jury concluded that “Dr Feelgood” really had tried, after all,  to act in the best interests of his patients. He was acquitted on all counts.

The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners was less naïve, and found him guilty of over-prescribing narcotics. But in a legal twist to beat all twists, they concluded  that the drug-pushing lab coat nutcase  was not “unethical”. They imposed 90-day suspension of his license.

Well, that ought a teach him, right? You know, send a drug pusher to his room?

Guess not.

In 1995, Nichopoulos had his license permanently revoked by the same Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, after it was determined that he really had been pushing drugs for fun & profit to many, many people over the years. Nichopoulos claimed it was for patients who suffered from chronic pain, but the Board knew better. Nichopoulos did finally confess to the Medical Board that he had overprescribed because he “cared too much.”

According to 2 independent medical labs, the following drugs were found in Presley’s bloodstream:

  • Valium
  • Demerol
  • Quaalude
  • Sinutab
  • Codeine, “very high dose”
  • Methaqualone, “very high dose”

Those medications taken in a single day by a non drug addict could kill a person within an hour.

The fact that drug-pushing had made him extremely wealthy, and allowed him to travel in the company of some of the most famous entertainers on the planet, never really mattered to him at all. Riiight.

Elvis Presley, Priscilla and Lisa Marie

Elvis with his wife Priscilla, their daughter Lisa Marie,  Presley’s personal doctor George Nichopoulos and his wife Priscilla Ann. (photo by Frank Carroll)



Nichopoulos actually started treating Presley in 1967 for back pain. Within 3 years, making himself available to issue drugs to Elvis anytime night or day, became his full-time job. And with all the girls in the swimming pools and the food and the night clubs and the sexy music, life was really, really fun. Right up until the morning of August 16, 1977, when his very, very famous patient had to go and spoil everything by – you know – dying next to his toilet.

Damn it, Elvis.

This case – for those of us who look into such things – bears a striking, spooky resemblance to the Doctor Conrad Murray/ Michael Jackson relationship years later. Jackson also was the most famous singer in the world in his era; Jackson also became a totally drug-dependent entertainer with a very strange, private life; and of course there is simply no slicker way to get the drugs you want, than to hire a live-in doctor drug-pusher – one willing to prostitute his profession for serious, serious cash, as well as the seductive access to fame.

elvis-presley Plaque

In the years following Elvis’ death this fellow operated a clinic for a decade, until the state of Tennessee stripped him of his medical license in 1995. He then took a job evaluating workers compensation insurance claims for FedEx , whose main office is also in Memphis. In the last years of his life he sold souvenirs from Elvis at auctions, and at one point had a travelling exhibit, showing off his doctor’s bag with some of the medications he prescribed for Elvis.

Dr Pill Head

A career drug dealer showing off his drug case for money. What could be more appropriate that that?

And you wonder why we call healthcare the Twilight Zone? Really?




Did the Doctor Kill the Doctor? She Certainly Did, Ollie

In Western Australia a physician who clobbered her freaky doctor-husband over the head with a 5-pound mallet should be out of jail early enough to enjoy the summer.

A Supreme Court jury found Doctor Chamari Liyanage guilty of the charge of Manslaughter, in the death of her husband, Doctor Dinendra Athukorala in their Geraldton home in June, 2014. They found she repeatedly bashed him with the heavy mallet after he told her he wanted to have sex with a 17-year-old girl – a family friend.

Liyanage was sentenced to four years jail and will be eligible for parole after serving two years. Because of time already served, she could be released from Greenough Regional Prison in June.

Chamari Liyanage has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Liyanage, who broke down continuously throughout the trial, did not react when the verdict was handed down but started sobbing a few minutes later.

Justice Stephen Hall agreed that Liyanage’s husband was a manipulative and merciless abuser who humiliated and degraded his wife for years. But her response was excessive and disproportionate. “This was not a justified killing, you went too far,” he said.

The jury heard the hysterical “000” call – Liyanage made to police, on the first day of the trial. They later watched a recording of her 3-day police interview.

The jury also saw the child sexual exploitation material found on computer equipment in the Sri Lankan couple’s home.

Liyanage was questioned over a number of days during the final week of the trial. She told the court her husband routinely downloaded pornography, including bestiality, and even forced her to appear on live sex webcam sites.

Liyanage filled a notebook with tales of abuse, well  before her husband’s death.

Before her husband’s death, Liyanage filled a blue notebook with tales of abuse and descriptions of what she had gone through from the moment she met Doctor Athukorala.

So the United States does not have the market on freaky physicians. But the question no one wants to ask, is why do we any at all?

Here’s more on this jaw-dropping murder case:




‘Dude. Like . . . Where’s My Doctor-bot?’


“Go ahead. Make my day.” (Clint Eastwood, ‘Dirty Harry’.)



American consumers are more like children than they ought to be: they tend to want the newest, shiniest thing in the surgical room – just like they do in the living room. It’s juvenile, kids-on-the-playground thinking. And it’s costing us in many more ways than one.

“Americans tend to think that the latest and greatest technology has got to be better, and it’s not in this case,” says Doctor John Santa, medical director at Consumer Reports Health.

A robotic surgery company called Intuitive has undertaken direct-to-consumer marketing for its robots. As a result, patients often demand robotic surgery, doctors say.

“I can’t tell you how many patients come in who say, ‘I want robotic surgery with a laser’ — and they’ll find somebody to do that,” said Dr. Eric Genden an ear, nose, and throat surgeon at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “This is a beautiful illustration of how American medicine and the patients tend to become enamored by technology without ever really asking the question, ‘What are we  actuallygetting?’”

“Patients will go to someone who has the robot because it’s been marketed so much,” he said.

Hospitals – knowing a dollar bill when they see one – advertise their da Vinci machines in part as a response to perceived consumer demand. They see the robots as a way to bring more patients through their glass doors rather than their competitors’, studies have shown. But hospital advertisements also help drive the perception that robots make the best surgeons. And that simply ain’t always true.

One study of how hospitals talk about robotic surgery found that many copied directly from Intuitive’s marketing materials. Only a minority pointed to potential risks. Unlike doctors and drug companies, hospitals aren’t required to disclose risks in their advertising.

Marketing has played such a big part in drumming up demand for da Vinci machines that one surgeon who has developed a substantial online following under the pen name Skeptical Scalpel concluded in a blog post on robotic surgery that, “The decline of medicine as a profession began when it became legal for doctors and hospitals to advertise.”

Dr. Fabrizio Michelassi, the chair of the department of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, said surgeons are obligated to educate their patients on what the evidence says are the pros and cons of robotic surgery.

“Unless we inform the patient population on this, there will be a drive from the consumer that trumps everything else, because at that point hospitals and physicians are caught in a difficult dilemma,” Michelassi said. “Hospitals and physicians are caught in the dilemma to either continue to deliver optimal care or to respond to market requests.”

The ECRI Institute ranks robotic surgery among its top 10 healthcare hazards for 2015; it appeared on the same list in 2014. ECRI doesn’t fault the device. Instead, it points to inadequate certification requirements at the hospitals that use it. The group is pushing hospitals to develop appropriate processes for approving doctors to use the robotic systems.

Some hospitals may require a surgeon to perform three robotic surgeries before giving him or her the okay to operate on a patient with a robot; others may require 50 or 100 operations. Hospital policies are not routinely disclosed to the public.

“You do three robotic cases and you’re credentialed,” Redan said, by way of example. “But people spend a year in their fellowships learning how to do conventional surgeries.”

So you pay your bucks and you take your chances.

Here’s more:




D.C. EMS Director Resigns in Disgust

Yes, yes, we know. We rag on doctors all the time and seemingly never give praise when it is due.Dr Jullette Saussy

Well, here’s one of the good ones who tried to make changes in the confounding world of EMS – but couldn’t. The politics of inner-city EMS – she says – was toxic.

She was brought in to help reform the EMS wing of the D.C. Fire Department. Seven months later, Dr. Jullette Saussy is done. Not with the reform –  with the department – after she says her attempts, as medical director and assistant fire chief, to make even basic changes to the troubled agency have been met with resistance from the top down.

We tip our beach cap to Dr. Jullette Saussy. And we have no doubt she will land in a niche that appreciates her drive for excellence. We know all about the jaw-dropping streak of insanity that runs through far too many EMS systems. We spent decades there.


Lady Doctor Drug-dealer Gets 3-Decades for Patient-Murders

Dr Lisa Tseng & Atty

Dr Lisa Tseng, and Attorney Tracy Green

Last Fall we briefly covered the case of Doctor Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, a southern California physician. Last week an L.A. Superior Court judge sentenced the Rowland Heights MD to 30 years in state prison, for the murders of three of her patients who fatally overdosed. This ended a landmark case that some medical experts say could change how doctors nationwide handle prescriptions.

Well gee, ya think that might be a bright idea? Prescription drugs kill 18,000 Americans a year? Do you think doctors ought to maybe “rethink” their drug-pushing habits? What an outrageous thought. And maybe to leverage some critical thinking, How about a court-ordered mandate, forcing them to attend 300 funerals every week? You think that might get their attention?


Lock one drug-dealer up . . . another will take her place

This doctor Tseng’s prison sentencing came after a Los Angeles jury last year found her guilty of second-degree murder – the second time a physician has been convicted of murder in the U.S. for overprescribing drugs.

Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli, told the court that Tseng “tried to blame her patients, the pharmacists and even other doctors, rather than take responsibility for her own actions.”

The 8-week trial included 77 witnesses and more than 250 pieces of evidence.

Tseng, wearing a blue jail jumpsuit, apologized to the victims’ families and her own family.

Tseng, age 46, a general practitioner, is among a growing number of doctors being charged with murder for prescribing narcotics that kill patients.

Dr Pill Head

This is exactly how many doctors see patients


Some so-called experts say they fear that Tseng’s conviction will usher in a new reality: doctors becoming afraid of prosecution, and then hesitant to prescribe painkillers to patients who need them. They say the trial has already had a “deterrent effect” on other doctors and has captured the medical community’s attention.

What a bunch of lab coat whiners. Instead of complaining, what they ought to be doing is listening to their brighter colleagues, like Doctor Peter Staats, president of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. He says this: “When you use the word ‘murder, of course it’s going to have a chilling effect. But any doctor who is prescribing pills knowing that they are being abused, shouldn’t be called a doctor. That’s not the practice of medicine,” Staats said.

Staats said he believes an aggressive medical board – and not prosecutors – should be going after reckless doctors.

Aggressive Medical Board? Sorry, Doc. That’s a contradiction in terms. There is simply no such animal. Not in this country.

Doctor Francis Riegler, a pain specialist who works in Palmdale California, says he followed Tseng’s trial too, and has talked with fellow doctors across the nation about the case.

“We all agree,” he said. “If you’re doing the right thing – if you simply do your job correctly, you don’t need to worry about being prosecuted for murder.”

Our point exactly.

During Tseng’s trial, for example, Deputy Dist. Atty. John Niedermann told jurors that there were “red flags” in her prescribing habits. More than a dozen times, the prosecutor said, a coroner or law enforcement officer called with the same dark news: “Your patient has died of a drug O.D.” Her prescribing habits, Niedermann said, remained absolutely unchanged. She went right on drugging the druggies. And why not? Their drug habits made them walking, talking ATM machines.

The prosecutor told jurors that Tseng would even falsify prescription names so people could get twice as many pills; her staff testified she openly referred to her patients as “druggies” and routinely faked medical records.

Her motivation, Niedermann said, was money. Between 2007-2010, when Tseng joined the Rowland Heights clinic where her husband worked, (and her husband has managed to step into legal doo-doo of his own) her office brought in $5 million.

Tseng was convicted of murder in the deaths of Vu Nguyen, 28, of Lake Forest; Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert; and Joey Rovero, 21, an Arizona State University student. And the ugly fact is, although this lab coat loon was merely found guilty of 3 murders, investigators discovered that at least a dozen other patients died too.

Tseng was only charged with killing 3 people because other factors were involved in many of the deaths, such as drugs also being prescribed by other doctors, and one possible suicide. Prosecutors named three other Orange County men who also died under her care: Matthew Stavron, 24; Naythan Kenney, 34; and Ryan Latham, 21. And civil lawsuits have been filed by victims’ families against Tseng for the deaths of Ryan Winter, 20, of Aliso Viejo, and Riley Russo, 20, of Laguna Niguel. Tseng has already paid $275,000 to Rovero’s parents and $225,000 for yet another death, that of Nicholas Mata, 22, of Huntington Beach.

The jury also found Tseng guilty of more than a dozen other criminal charges.

This woman’s murder conviction is rare for a doctor. It shouldn’t be rare – in a saner society, it would be a weekly event. That is, until drug-dealing MDs start getting the hint and knock off the garbage-level street-dealing scat.

Prosecutors told the court the wayward physician prescribed hard-core narcotics to people with no medical need, and that she repeatedly ignored signs they were overdosing, even when warned numerous times, that her patients were showing up at emergency rooms all over town not breathing, from doses of drugs she herself was prescribing.

Tseng’s attorney, Tracy Green, argued to the court that the doctor had been “naive to prescribe so many medications.”

Right. 10 years of advanced education; a dozen years treating thousands of people, and her problem is being gullible? Here’s a news flash for Ms. Tracy Green, attorney at law. Talking like an idiot does nothing to elevate your reputation as a legal eagle. So stop it. Your client’s problem was greed. Look in the mirror and mouth the words. We promise. Honesty helps you sleep better.

Unfortunately this physician – as indeed so many thousands of other physicians – either forget or ignore the most basic tenet of medicine: Primum no nocere. That simple Latin phrase has been around a long, long time. Non-malfeasance, is bedrock bioethics that all healthcare students are taught in school. Ask any nursing student. It’s a fundamental principle. Roughly translated it means this: if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, at least don’t kill your patient, okay? Doesn’t that sound like something that – oh, we don’t know – a CUB SCOUT – might figure out?

Here’s more: