Deaths caused by prescription painkiller overdoses have reached epidemic levels over the past decade, and believe it or not doctors — the people we’re supposed to trust most when it comes to our health — are partially to blame. Dr. Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng has become the first doctor in the United States to be convicted of second-degree murder for prescribing "crazy, outrageous amounts" of painkillers to around a dozen of her patients who died.

"You can't hide behind a white lab coat and commit crimes," Deputy District Attorney John Niedermann told The Associated Press. "Writing a prescription to someone knowing that they're going to abuse it and potentially die was the theory of second-degree murder that we had. Something is wrong with what you're doing if your patients are dying."

Tseng’s conviction is part of a nationwide initiative to crack down on so-called "pill-mills" — doctors, clinics, or pharmacies that knowingly distribute prescription narcotics to patients who do not need them for medical reasons. Although prosecutors were only able to bring three murder charges against the Los Angeles-based physician due to factors including drugs prescribed by other doctors and potential suicides, they estimate that her reckless prescription writing led to around a dozen deaths.

Prosecutors were able to convict Tseng of killing Joseph Rovero, 21, Steven Ogle, 25, and Vu Nguyen, 29, who all overdosed on prescription medication between March and December of 2009. Tseng, who had no records for the three men when she was contacted by the Medical Board of California, was accused of forging medical records to justify the prescriptions she wrote. She even ignored the pleas of family members who begged her to stop writing prescriptions for loved ones.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 15,000 people die each year in the U.S. due to overdoses involving prescription painkillers. Back in 2010, around the time Tseng earned $5 million in one three-year period, one out of every 20 people in the U.S. reported using prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons. The amount of prescription painkillers sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors was four times larger that year compared to 1999.

Tseng will face up to life in prison when she is sentenced on Dec. 14.