SANTA MONICA, CA – Dr. Stephen Loyd, a recovering drug addict who at one point was taking up to 100 pills a day including Vicodin and oxycodone while working with patients, joined with Proposition 46 proponents and spoke about the dangers to patients of undetected physician impairment. Dr. Loyd said the latest TV ad opposing Proposition 46 is “criminal” and will “cost people their lives.” Consumer Watchdog released a statistic showing that the California Medical Board has failed, according to its own estimation, to police the medical profession and protect the public from impaired doctors.
“By the numbers about 2% of physicians are impaired at any given time – which means you have 2,600 physicians impaired today in the State of California,” said Dr. Stephen Loyd, recovering substance abuser and the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy 2014 Advocate for Action. “Only 32 disciplinary actions against doctors for misusing drugs or alcohol averaged over the past ten years. It’s pathetic…The fact that you have so few cases of doctors you discipline doesn’t tell you anything except that you’ve got your head stuck in the sand.”
Click here for the Medical Board report on disciplinary actions: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/mbcannualreportsummary_0.pdf
Physician substance abuse is a serious problem in California. The California Medical Board has reported estimates that 18% of doctors will have a substance abuse problem at some point during their lifetimes, and 1-2% are abusing drugs or alcohol at any time. Since there are about 128,000 licensed physicians in California, 2% would constitute 2,560 impaired doctors.
A summary of California Medical Board Annual Report data on disciplinary actions found that there were a total of 326 physicians disciplined for drug and alcohol abuse or addiction since 2003. 10% of all disciplinary actions were for substance abuse.
“I think we’re looking at this all wrong,” said Dr. Loyd. “We need to be looking at this as an opportunity to step into the light, of doctors who are putting patients at risk, whose own lives are circling down the drain, and helping them. And a byproduct of that will be to improve patient safety. It happened to me, and it’ll happen to them.”
The opposition to Prop 46 is airing an ad that falsely tries to scare voters that Prop 46 would make patient data vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves. Three newspapers, the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee, and the San Jose Mercury News have slammed the ad as being “jaw-droppingly deceptive,” “so misleading that it falls into the whopper category,” and “shamelessly deceptive.” Thus far, the No on 46 campaign has ignored calls to take down this ad which the Bee called an “outright lie.”
“I saw this ad for the first time last night and the first word that popped into my head was ‘unethical’,” said Dr. Loyd. “My guess is that California doctors know that the prescription drug monitoring databank is a good thing and they know it’s a good weapon to prevent prescription drug abuse. So when I saw this ad I was really appalled, that they had taken this angle on it. This ad will cost people their lives.”
Prop 46 would require prescribers to check California’s existing and secure statewide prescription drug database, known as CURES, when prescribing to a patient for the first time.
Dr. Loyd continued: “Doctors being able to query this databank will figure out who the doctor-shoppers are and direct them to treatment, as opposed to writing them more medication which will run their morphine equivalence up to a level which could cause them to potentially overdose and die. And to me that’s criminal.”
For more information about the Prop 46 campaign for patient safety, please visit www.YesProp46.org
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Paid for by Consumer Watchdog Campaign – Yes on 46, a coalition of attorneys, consumer advocates, and patients. 2701 Ocean Park Blvd., Ste. 112, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Major Funding by Aitken, Aitken & Cohn, LLP.