SANTA MONICA, CA – The author of California's patient safety ballot measure Proposition 46 and a consumer advocate supporting the campaign called upon the California Medical Association and its president, Dr. Richard Thorp, to seriously discuss the somber reality of doctors with problems with substance addiction and abuse.
Bob Pack, the author of Proposition 46 who lost two children to a high driver who had been recklessly prescribed narcotics, and Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, took exception with Thorp equivocating in a recent New York Times front page article on "the issue of whether the California Medical Association supports mandatory drug testing of doctors, as exists for pilots, bus drivers, and other public safety professions, stating merely, 'That's a theoretical question.'"
Read the New York Times story: nyti.ms/1p4GiAy
"Patients who have lost loved ones to medical negligence, substance abuse and physician impairment deserve better than the cold shoulder and arrogant hostility you have shown them," wrote Pack and Court.
Download the letter: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/thorpletter8-4-14.pdf
"The loss of life caused by overprescribing and physician substance abuse is not "theoretical" to the patients in our coalition who have lost their loved ones due to the injuries that result when physicians are reckless with narcotics or are impaired themselves," Pack and Court continue. "The reason Proposition 46 is on the ballot in order to save lives is because your association has refused to discuss improving patient safety with the most important stakeholders in the medical system: the patients.
"[Y]ou have refused to debate serious reform in the legislature – an offer our patient coalition made to you and your association on the steps of the Capitol one year before submitting 850,000 voter signatures to qualify Prop 46 for the ballot. We heard nothing in return."
The letter cites two cases of patient harm: A Fresno cardiac surgeon with an alleged alcohol abuse problem who is still practicing even though he has a documented pattern of walking out on patients mid-surgery, and Dr. David Chao, a San Diego physician who continues to practice even after two DUIs, accusations of negligence and self-prescribing, and a TV report implicating him in the overdose death of Chargers linebacker Junior Seau.
Pack and Court said that they "call upon you once more to publicly debate the provisions of Proposition 46, including mandatory drug testing, and to state publicly your position on the matter clearly. The matter is now in the hands of patients – the voters – and they deserve the benefit of honest information and enlightened debate."
Proposition 46, also known as the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, would require random drug and alcohol testing of doctors modeled after the Federal Aviation Administration's testing of airline pilots, and testing after an adverse event in a hospital. Prop 46 would also:
• Require physicians to report suspected drug or alcohol abuse at work by a colleague
• Index for inflation the medical negligence damage cap that was set by the legislature in California in 1975 and has never been updated
• Mandate that physicians check the state's prescription drug database before prescribing narcotics and other addictive drugs to first-time patients
Up to 440,000 Americans die every year due to preventable patient harm, the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Leading experts in patient safety have called for random physician drug testing, including Department of Health and Human Services inspector general Daniel R. Levinson, and Lucian Leape, founder of the National Patient Safety Foundation and an author of the Institute of Medicine's seminal 1999 report on medical negligence, To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System.
For more about Proposition 46 and the fight to protect patient safety, please visit www.yeson46.org
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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 Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis, Inc.