SACRAMENTO, CA: Based on complaints that Dr. Candelaria was providing anesthesia in her husband's office without the requisite training, the Medical Board opened an investigation. The investigation uncovered an instance in which allegedly “Dr. Candelaria was administering anesthesia (believed to be Demerol) intravenously to a patient in the operating room while simultaneously administering the drug to herself via an additional intravenous line. According to a medical assistant assisting in the procedure, Dr. Candelaria lost consciousness in the operating room.”
An arrest warrant was issued and a Medical Board investigator followed Dr. Candelaria to work, where she was observed "driving erratically often exceeding the speed [limit]." When Dr. Candelaria arrived at work, she was arrested by the DEA.
Even though she had been scheduled to provide sedation to several patients that day, Dr. Candelaria told the DEA that she was too heavily medicated to answer their questions.
At her home, the DEA found controlled substances, as well as syringes and needles that were taken from the medical clinic. They also found injectable vials of Valium, Benadryl, Fentanyl, and Demerol. Dr. Candelaria later admitted that she didn't have a prescription for any of these medications.
A consultant to the Medical Board found that there was a "significant likelihood that [Dr. Candelaria] may use one or more of these drugs when responsible for patient care — when optimal clear-headedness and judgment are required." Saying that "physicians who use and abuse substances pose a danger to themselves, their patients, and those around them," the consultant said that Dr. Candelaria's behavior would "place patients at unwarranted risk of harm."
Among other findings, the Medical Board found that Dr. Candelaria was guilty of repeated negligent acts, unprofessional conduct, and of "practicing medicine while under the influence of drugs to such an extent as to impair her ability to practice medicine with safety to her patients and the public." Even so, Dr. Candelaria's medical license has not yet been revoked.
Proposition 46, the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, will enact the first law in the nation to require random drug and alcohol tests of physicians in hospitals, modeled after the Federal Aviation Administration testing program that has successfully reduced substance abuse by pilots. Doctors found to be impaired on the job will have their license suspended. If Prop 46 had been in effect, Dr. Candelaria's alleged addiction could have been detected, possibly preventing patient injuries in the process.
Hall of Shame: Insurance Companies Backing No on 46
Cooperative of American Physicians $10,161,489.04
The Doctors Company $10,000,000.00
NorCal Mutual Insurance Company $10,000,000.00
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan $5,000,000.00
Medical Insurance Exchange of California $5,000,000.00
The Dentists Insurance Company $1,620,000.00
The Mutual Risk Retention Group $1,000,000.00
All Insurers: $42,781,489.04
Insurance companies have spent nearly $43 million dollars to oppose Prop 46 in order to shield dangerous doctors like Dr. Candelaria from punishment, at the expense of patient safety, in order to protect their already substantial profits. In total, the opposition to Prop 46 has over $57 million dollars in their warchest, outspending consumer and patient safety advocates who support Prop 46 nearly 10:1.
Learn more about Proposition 46 and the campaign for patient safety at: www.yeson46.org
Paid for by Yes on Prop. 46, Your Neighbors for Patient Safety, a Coalition of Consumer Attorneys and Patient Safety Advocates – major funding by Consumer Attorneys of California Issues and Initiative Defense Political Action Committees and Kabateck, Brown, Kellner, LLP.