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'Little Old Lady' co-writer loses medical license

Dr. Donald Jay Altfeld, who contributed to the hit tune performed by the Beach Boys and the duo Jan and Dean, was accused of writing prescriptions for himself.

April 10, 2012|By Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times

A doctor who co-wrote a popular 1960s song performed by the Beach Boys has surrendered his medical license after medical authorities accused him of prescribing medications for himself.

Dr. Donald Jay Altfeld called in prescriptions for himself for drugs including Xanax and Norco, the Medical Board of California alleged in a 17-page decision made public Monday.

Altfeld co-wrote the song "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena," which was performed by the Beach Boys and included in their No. 1 album "Beach Boys Concert" from 1964. The song was first recorded by the duo Jan and Dean and reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart in 1964.

Two days after a Target pharmacist in Ventura refused to fill a prescription that Altfeld called in for himself in July 2010, he asked a patient to take a prescription, written in the patient's name, to that Target to obtain medications for Altfeld's use, according to the decision.

In July 2011, Altfeld was examined by a psychiatrist appointed by the medical board and determined to be a drug abuser, mentally ill and unable to "practice medicine safely," the decision states.

Altfeld was hospitalized multiple times for mental illness, according to the board. During one hospital admission in 2010, "he was bizarre and illogical; he was rambling, intrusive and very paranoid," the decision states.

Medical board investigators interviewed Altfeld in a Ventura motel room where he lived last year. The room smelled and the bed's mattress was stained with blood, according to the board.

Altfeld, who has been licensed in California since 1991, represented himself during the medical board proceedings. He could not be reached for comment.

Once a doctor surrenders a license, "there isn't really much more we can do ... other than encourage or counsel him to get help," said Dan Wood, a spokesman for the medical board. Wood had not yet read the decision.

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