California pulls former USC dean Puliafito's medical license

California's medical board suspended the license of Carmen Puliafito following a scandal that he used illegal drugs when serving as dean of USC's medical school.

The Medical Board of California has suspended the license of the former dean of the University of Southern California’s medical school after he was tied to illegal drug use in a scandal that rocked the school.

The state board suspended the license of Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., a renowned eye surgeon, pending a final decision on his fitness to practice medicine, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported allegations of his drug use.

The medical board opened an investigation into Puliafito after the newspaper reported that he used methamphetamine and other drugs extensively when he served as dean of USC’s Keck School of Medicine.


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An administrative law judge issued an order this week after the state attorney general’s office, acting on behalf of the medical board, and Puliafito agreed to the license suspension until the medical board completes its inquiry and issues a decision, the Times said. The interim measure will remain in force until the medical board takes action.

Puliafito was dean of the medical school from 2007 until March 2016 when he resigned the post. After the report of his drug use, the university suspended him from its faculty and barred him from seeing patients at its medical facilities. It also began the process of firing him from the staff at the Keck School of Medicine.

Puliafito’s attorney told the Times that the doctor has not practiced medicine since the newspaper reported the drug allegations in July and that he has been in treatment.

The alleged drug use by Puliafito brought to the forefront the controversial question of whether physicians should be subject to random drug testing. It left some questioning whether such drug testing would have helped Puliafito and could detect drug use among other medical professionals struggling with addictions.

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