CENTRAL VALLEY, CA: In 2008, Dr. Hoffmann was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. She was pulled over and a test showed her blood alcohol level was at .10%, over the legal limit of .08%. After a criminal trial, Dr. Hoffmann was convicted of a DUI and sentenced to two days in jail and was required to abstain from alcohol. However, when she arrived at the jail to serve out her sentence, a blood screen returned results of .05%.
In 2010, Dr. Hoffmann was convicted a second time of drunk driving, this time with her two young sons in her car. Her blood alcohol level was at 0.26% and, because of how unsteady Dr. Hoffmann was, the police officer had to stop his field sobriety test for safety reasons.
During a Medical Board investigation, Dr. Hoffmann admitted that she was inappropriately prescribing large quantities of Norco to her boyfriend.
In 2011, the Medical Board received a complaint that Dr. Hoffmann was treating patients while under the influence. The complaint, filed by one of her employees, said that Dr. Hoffmann would come to work impaired and her patients had to be sent home for their own safety. The complaint also stated Dr. Hoffmann would steal pills from her patients when they left the room for lab tests.
The complaint detailed an incident on June 21, 2011 when Dr. Hoffmann was sent home from a substance abuse meeting for being intoxicated; her medical staff found an open bottle of wine in her car.
The Medical Board reported that later that day on June 21, 2011, while under the influence, Dr. Hoffmann inflicted third degrees burns on one of her patients while attempting to perform a medical procedure. The patient said that Dr. Hoffmann looked "alcoholic" and was "as high as a kite." After her patient went to the ER for the burns, she called Dr. Hoffmann and complained about her pain. In response, Dr. Hoffmann prescribed her sleeping pills.
In August 2011, a Medical Board investigator finally went to Dr. Hoffmann's office after receiving a phone call that she was again impaired while at work. Dr. Hoffmann admitted that she was unable to stop drinking alcohol, that she had been addicted for 30 years, and that she had been taking pills for the last 6 or 7 years. Dr. Hoffman also recounted a time when she had been drunk on peppermint schnapps at work, and insisted, in relation to another incident, that she wasn't under the influence and could practice medicine safely. She agreed to submit to a drug test, which found that she had been practicing medicine while impaired by hydrocodone, morphine, methadone and codeine; her blood alcohol level was .105%.
Although she admitted all of the Medical Board's charges, it took two more years before Dr. Hoffmann finally surrendered her medical license.
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. Hoffmann's drug and alcohol addiction may have been detected, possibly preventing injuries to patients.
Prop 46 would also require prescribers to check California's existing and secure prescription drug database, known as CURES, when prescribing Schedule II-III narcotics. If this provision had been in effect, it's likely that Dr. Hoffmann's inappropriate prescribing to her boyfriend would have been discovered.
Hall of Shame: Insurance Companies Backing No on 46
NorCal Mutual Insurance Company $11,000,000.00
Cooperative of American Physicians $10,161,489.04
The Doctors 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: $43,916,007.28
Insurance companies have spent nearly $44 million dollars to oppose Prop 46 in order to shield dangerous doctors like Dr. Hoffmann 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 $58 million dollars in their warchest, outspending consumer and patient safety advocates more than 8:1.
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.