MURRIETA, CA: In July 2013, Dr. Vreeke was on duty, working as an anesthesiologist. Unfortunately, she was also impaired on a drug she had stolen from work that she had administered to herself intravenously. She was discovered and sent home. However, the next day she came back to work and stole three vials of drugs before returning home.
The Medical Board eventually opened an investigation and Dr. Vreeke told them that she had stolen controlled narcotics for her own use. She also admitted that, while practicing medicine, she was frequently impaired and under influence of drugs she had stolen from work. Dr. Vreeke told the Medical Board that she is unable to practice medicine safely without restrictions.
Earlier this month, the Medical Board finally imposed a few restrictions on Dr. Vreeke's license — over a year after she was first caught at work while impaired.
Despite Dr. Vreeke's history of dishonesty and pattern of being impaired at work, the restrictions imposed by the Medical Board were extremely minimal: they did not require Dr. Vreeke's recovery from her addiction before she returned to work. Furthermore, even though Dr. Vreeke admitted that she had stolen narcotics from work, the Medical Board did not require any monitoring to ensure she couldn't steal drugs in the future.
Dr. Vreeke is able to practice medicine today.
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. Vreeke's drug abuse may have been detected, possibly preventing threats to patient safety in the process.
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. Vreeke 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.