Bad Medicine: Catching New York’s Deadliest Pill Pusher

One Signal. Jan. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9781982116422. $28. CRIME
Bismuth, a former prosecutor, recounts the trial of Stan Li, a Queens, NY, physician who in 2014 was convicted of manslaughter in the overdose deaths of two of his patients. Bismuth was fairly new to the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor when she received a tip that Li was writing prescriptions for Xanax and oxycodone in exchange for cash, as well as committing insurance fraud. Carefully detailed accounts of the investigation and trial, including testimony from family members of the victims, are interwoven with recollections from the author’s life; as a result, the time line can be confusing, jumping back and forth several times in a chapter. Nevertheless, the author skillfully demonstrates how difficult—but crucial—it was to hold a doctor of Li’s qualifications accountable for reckless prescribing.
VERDICT Bismuth has made an important contribution to the growing landscape of books documenting the opioid epidemic (Beth Macy’s Dopesick; Ryan Hampton’s American Fix; Ben Westhoff’s Fentanyl, Inc.). Readers horrified by the effects of the opioid crisis will appreciate.
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