• May make it to the November ballot
• “Doctor drug testing will become a standard all across America, just as it already is for pilots”
Californians may be asked when they vote in November to determine if doctors should be tested for drug abuse.
The requirement is contained in a proposed initiative for which more than 840,000 signatures have been gathered and submitted for examination.
“The ‘Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act’ will save lives and prevent families across California from having to endure the tragedies ours have by creating accountability and transparency in medical care,” says Bob Pack, the initiative’s proponent.
His children, Alana, 7, and Troy, 10, were killed on a roadside by a motorist who ran them over after being overprescribed thousands of narcotics and falling asleep at the wheel. The driver is now serving a 30-years-to-life sentence for murder in Valley State Prison in Chowchilla.
“Doctor drug testing will become a standard all across America, just as it already is for pilots, after California voters enact it in November,” says Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog Campaign. “Intoxicated and drug-dealing doctors cause harm, and the Pack Act’s inflation adjustment of the state’s 38 year old malpractice cap means families will have access to justice if their loved ones are injured or killed by these or other negligent doctors.”
“If it qualifies, the measure could easily be a $100 million battle on the November ballot,” says Scott Lay, president and chief executive officer of the Community College League of California, and who writes a daily political and legislative newsletter with over 4,000 subscribers.
If it gets to the ballot and is enacted by voters and not overturned by subsequent lawsuits, the Pack Act would:
• Mandate random drug testing of doctors to prevent physician substance abuse
• Require that physicians use the state's existing prescription drug database, “CURES,” (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System) to curb doctor-shopping drug abusers (Mr. Pack, a software executive from Danville, created the CURES database);
• Adjusts the state's malpractice cap to account for 38 years of inflation since it was enacted, while maintaining the existing cap on attorney fees. The current malpractice cap is set at $250,000 for those without wage loss or medical bills, no matter how egregious the malpractice.
Reports show that doctor-prescribed overdoses and physician substance abuse are growing crises.
According to the initiative’s proponents:
• One in six physician disciplinary actions taken by the California Medical Board during the past decade were for physician-substance abuse or physician- overprescribing
• The California Medical Board reports that 18 percent of doctors will have a substance abuse problem during their career
• The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently called for physician-drug testing in a New York Times op-ed based on scandals nationwide
• The Journal of the American Medical Association reported recently that physicians are the biggest suppliers of chronic prescription drug abusers.