Consumer Watchdog Campaign: Doctors That Harm The Real Stories Insurance Companies Against Prop 46 Don’t Want You To Know: Dr. Brian West

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HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA: Dr. West was a plastic surgeon with complaints of negligence and dishonesty filed by at least six severely deformed patients beginning in 2000. None of them knew that West had a substance abuse problem, or that he had entered the Medical Board’s secret (and now defunct) addiction monitoring program. In 2005, Dr. West was placed on five years probation after two separate DUI convictions. His first DUI arrest occurred when he hit a car on his way to see a patient at the hospital; his blood alcohol content was more than double the legal limit at .19%. The Medical Board found that Dr. West had lied to them when he told them that he wasn't headed to the hospital.

Despite his purported attempt at recovery, documents showed that Dr. West had told an employee to falsify Alcoholics Anonymous sign-in sheets to make it appear he had attended. After a third DUI which caused an accident, and disfiguring a cancer patient in a surgery that she had never consented to, the Medical Board finally revoked Dr. West’s license in July 2009. The Medical Board found that Dr. West had a "pattern of dishonesty" and his actions were an "extreme departure from the standard of care" which constituted "gross negligence."

"I was a victim of Dr. Brian West, an alcoholic whom the Medical Board protected at the expense of patient safety. I would have never gone to him had I known about his alcoholism. My story is not rare: too many doctors are practicing while impaired. Californians need Prop 46's patient protections so that impaired doctors like Dr. West are discovered before they harm patients."

– Tina Minasian, who suffers from permanent pain and mutilation. She still deals with splitting sutures and pain 10 years later.

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. If Prop 46 had been in effect, Dr. West's apparent alcoholism would have been detected, possibly preventing injuries in the process.

Prop 46 would also promote justice for patients and legal deterrence to wrongdoing by adjusting California’s cap on compensation for victims of medical negligence to account for 38 years of inflation – the unadjusted cap prevents many victims from holding doctors who harm them accountable. Because California's cap on damages is so low, injured patients were not able to hold Dr. West accountable.

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
Total:     $56,767,499.19

Insurance companies have spent nearly $43 million dollars to oppose Prop 46 in order to shield dangerous doctors like Dr. West 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 $56 million dollars in their warchest, outspending consumer and patient safety advocates nearly 10:1.

Learn more about Proposition 46 and the campaign for patient safety at:

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.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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