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When you practice medicine, Mr. Stone, sometimes the patient dies.
~ Auster arrogantly dismissing his victim.

Dr. Edward Auster is the main antagonist the Law & Order episode "Prescription for Death". He is an alcoholic doctor who frequently treats patients while under the influence, and who eventually kills two of them through drunken negligence.

He was portrayed by the late Paul Sparer.


Early Life

Auster excelled academically from a young age, and grew up to become an accomplished and respected doctor, rising up the ranks to eventually become the Chief of Medicine at Urban Medical Center in New York City.

However, he was also an alcoholic, and became notorious among his fellow doctors for treating patients while under the influence. He had so much power over other doctors' careers, however, that they covered for him, enabling him to make evermore serious medical errors and cause greater and greater harm to his patients.

"Prescription for Death"

When Suzanne Morton dies of a toxic drug combination due to Auster's drunken negligence, her father, a former Army medic, accuses him of causing her death and goes to the police. Detectives Max Greevey and Mike Logan interview the hospital staff, who say that Morton should not have died of such a minor infection, and then talk to Auster, who arrogantly insists that the doctors and nurses working under him do not have the medical training necessary to second-guess him.

While examining Morton's hospital chart, the detectives notice that there is whiteout on it, as it is considered malpractice for a physician to whiteout mistakes on medical forms. They question one of the doctors under Morton's supervision, who admits that Auster had strong-armed him into covering up the fact that he, Auster, had prescribed a narcotic painkiller to Morton, which had reacted badly with her other medications and killed her. After one of the night shift nurses tells them that Auster had seemed drunk while prescribing the narcotic, Greevey and Logan arrest him for manslaughter.

When Executive Assistant District Attorney Ben Stone and Assistant District Attorney Paul Robinette look into Auster's professional life, and find that he is well-known for practicing under various levels of intoxication, and at one point made a misdiagnosis while drunk that resulted in an eleven-year-old girl's death. They also learn that he had briefly enrolled in an alcohol rehabilitation program, and that he had continued drinking even after being told it would eventually kill him.

During the ensuing trial, Stone and Robinette try to prove that Auster knew he was an alcoholic and that he caused Morton's death because of it partially by drinking before going to work the knight she died and by administering meperidine while Suzanne was on phenelzine and acetaminophen. They subpoena people who had been with Auster at a hospital function the afternoon she died, who testify that he had drank to excess.

Acting on a hunch, Stone, whose father had been an alcoholic with a penchant for "three-martini lunches", has Greevy follow Auster to a restaurant during lunch recess, where he sees the doctor consume several bourbons. After court returns to session, Stone calls Auster to the stand and asks him to perform a field sobriety test in which he closes his eyes and touches his nose. After some protest, Auster complies, and pokes himself in the eye instead of pointing on his nose as instructed by the police manual on how to perform a sobriety test, proving that he is legally intoxicated. Auster is then found guilty of manslaughter and imprisoned.

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