September 7, 2014

A study in the Journal of Patient Safety points out that the third leading cause of death in the United States is preventable mistakes also referred to as medical negligence in hospitals and they estimate that up to 440,000 people die each year because of preventable mistakes in hospitals.  The California Medical Board reported estimates that nearly one in five doctors will abuse drugs or alcohol during their lifetimes.  Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. have more than tripled since 1990 and most of those deaths are due to prescription drugs.  Proposition 46 creates new protections to detect and deter medical negligence, overprescribing of prescription drugs, and doctor drug and alcohol abuse.

One of the many proponents of Proposition 46 is Bob Pack, whose two young children were killed by a drunk and drugged doctor-shopping driver who had been overprescribed thousands of pills from Kaiser physicians despite not having physical symptoms.  This proposition is aptly named the “Troy and Alana patient safety act” in honor of the Packs 2 young children.

Some of the provisions of proposition 46 include:

  • Require random drug and alcohol testing of doctors and testing after an adverse event in a hospital, modeled on the successful federal program for airline pilots;
  • Require physicians to report suspected drug or alcohol abuse at work by a colleague;
  • Require that physicians check the state’s existing prescription drug database before prescribing narcotics and other addictive drugs to first-time patients to curb doctor-shopping drug abusers;
  • Maintain the existing cap on attorneys fees in medical negligence cases.

One of the most important aspects of this proposition is that it maintains the existing cap on attorneys fees in medical negligence cases.  The AMA and many insurance groups will make the allegation that prop 46 is a money grab by trial lawyers and nothing could be further from the truth.  The last time there were any changes made for victims of medical negligence was 38 years ago!  This measure only starts to level the playing field for the victims.  Additionally, malpractice insurers in California are making record profits because of the extreme limitations placed on the victim while no such limitations are placed on the offending Doctor or insurance company.  This change comes down to basic fairness, nothing more.

The primary goal of Proposition 46 is to protect people from tragedies like that of the Packs, triggered by a woman who acquired an overload of pills by going to multiple doctors at the same hospital which is a common tactic by drug abusers called “doctor shopping.” The doctors had not bothered to check on their patient’s medication-use history because they weren’t required to, proponents said.

Tennessee Physician Stephen Loyd started abusing prescription drugs he procured through his close connections at the hospital where he worked. Over a short period of time, he was popping as many as a hundred Vicodin and Oxycodone pills a day while on the job.  “Proposition 46 will save lives,” Loyd told attendees at an August 11 meeting hosted by Consumer Watchdog, a consumer and taxpayer advocacy organization.  Consumer Watchdogs president, Jamie Court, told the Sacramento News & Review in an interview that Proposition 46 could also save the state’s taxpayers more than $400 million per year by curbing abuse and overprescription of medications.

Opponents of Proposition 46’s patient safety provisions, mostly hospitals and large insurance companies, have already raised $34 million for its defeat and are vowing to continue to fight this measure.

For additional information on this Proposition please visit www.yeson46.org or call The Law Office of Guenard & Bozarth at 888-809-1075 or visit www.gblegal.com  We Can Help.

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On February 13, 2013 Maricela, a Certified Nursing Assistant presented to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Emergency Room with complaint of neck and back pain. She was diagnosed with a neck strain and was given Ibuprofen and instructed to return if her symptoms did not subside.

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