A Danville couple who lost two children to a drunken and drugged driver joined other victims of medical negligence on Monday to deliver signatures for a ballot measure partly aimed at curbing "doctor shopping" for prescription pills.
Bob and Carmen Pack, whose 10-year-old son Troy and 7-year-old daughter Alana died in 2003, appeared at a news conference outside the L.A. County Registrar's Office in Norwalk, turning in 830,000 signatures to place the initiative named for their children on the November ballot.
Co-authored by Bob Pack, the Troy and Alana Patient Safety Act seeks to raise the cap on medical negligence damages — put in place by the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975 — up from $250,000, require doctors to submit to random drug tests and make it illegal for doctors to prescribe narcotics without first checking a statewide database.
"I'm very happy and proud that we were able to accomplish this signature-gathering effort," Pack said. "I think it will send a message that the citizens of California — when they learn about it — feel very strongly that the Safety Act and the MICRA laws need to be changed. The failure of the state legislature to do it on their own is being proved out."
Troy and Alana Pack were hit and killed on a Danville street by a driver found to be under the influence of alcohol and doctor-prescribed drugs. Investigators later discovered the woman, Jimena Barreto, had visited several doctors in the same Walnut Creek hospital, obtaining multiple prescriptions for Vicodin and muscle relaxants.
Bob Pack designed the CURES database, a statewide computerized system that tracks narcotic prescriptions. He also worked with Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) on a bill to fund and maintain the database, which is voluntary for doctors. Pack co-authored the Act along with Consumer Watchdog Campaign, a national consumer advocacy group that lobbies for changes to malpractice laws, among other issues.
"We think this is moderate reform," said Jamie Court, the group's president. "We think this is something good doctors should accept because it's right."
The Act needs about 555,000 validated signatures to qualify for the ballot. If it passes, it would make the database mandatory for doctors who prescribe narcotics, and raise the MICRA cap to about $1.2 million beginning in 2015. It would also require doctors to be drug tested once a year.
"Accountability is the most important element of this ballot measure," Pack said. "It's more important than the money."
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184 or [email protected].
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For more on the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, go to www.packact.org.