Former Medical Dean at U. of Southern California Was a Drug User, Newspaper Reports

Updated (7/17/2017, 4:17 p.m.) with news on Dr. Puliafito’s work at the USC Roski Eye Institute.

The dean of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California was with a woman when she overdosed in a Pasadena hotel room last year, the Los Angeles Times reports.

For more, see this Chronicle article.

That instance was one of many drug-fueled episodes chronicled in the Times report about Carmen A. Puliafito, a renowned eye surgeon who stepped down from his position at the university in March 2016, in the middle of the semester. Although he’s no longer in a leadership position, Dr. Puliafito is still on the medical school’s faculty, and he accepts new patients at the campus eye clinics, the newspaper reports.

The report states that the overdose incident happened three weeks before Dr. Puliafito resigned as dean. The woman who overdosed, Sarah Warren, told the newspaper that she met Dr. Puliafito in 2015, when she was working as a prostitute. Ms. Warren said she had offered Dr. Puliafito methamphetamine, which he accepted. The police later found the drug in the hotel room where Dr. Puliafito and Ms. Warren were staying at the time of her overdose.

The Times reports that Dr. Puliafito also spent time drinking and using drugs with friends who included drug addicts and prostitutes. The article describes a video of the dean showing an orange pill on his tongue to the camera and saying he’s taking Ecstasy before attending a ball.

In an email to The Chronicle, Eddie North-Hager, director of media relations at USC, wrote that Dr. Puliafito was on sabbatical from his faculty position when he resigned. The university is taking steps to review his work in patient care.

A receptionist reached by phone said that Dr. Puliafito had taken a recent leave of absence from the USC Roski Eye Institute.

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