Ophthalmologist Carmen Puliafito, MD, Seeks to Regain Medical License

June 15, 2018: By Joan McKenna

Carmen Puliafito, MD

Ophthalmologist Carmen Puliafito, MD, took full blame for his use of meth and other drugs while dean at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, as the 67-year-old pleaded June 7 to keep his California medical license, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Puliafito told the administrative judge: “I was supposed to be a beacon of morality and judgment, and I fell flat on my face after decades of doing the right thing,” The Times reported.

The renowned retina specialist was testifying at a hearing that spanned two weeks and concluded June 8. The judge is expected to issue a ruling by early July.

Puliafito also apologized to those at the university for any harm he brought to them and to a woman named Sarah Warren for enabling her addiction, The Times reported.

Puliafito’s lawyer blamed his client’s poor judgment on bipolar disorder and a hypomanic state and said Puliafito had been in recovery for nearly a year.

The hearing was held almost a year after USC suspended Puliafito following allegations of drug use and partying with drug users, sometimes on campus, while dean from August 2007 to March 2016. He was still part of the Keck faculty and treating patients at the time of his suspension.

Puliafito had raised hundreds of millions of dollars as dean and recruited at least 70 professors. He also was a frequent speaker at ophthalmic meetings.

Puliafito resigned as dean in 2016 following an incident in which Warren, then 21, overdosed in his presence in a Pasadena hotel room and was rushed to a hospital before being released. Police made no arrests, even after finding meth in the hotel room. The Times began a 15-month investigation of Puliafito after receiving a tip about the episode. It published its findings July 17, 2017.

Puliafito’s medical license was suspended Sept. 22, 2017.

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