After many years of resistance by the medical industry, the “Patient Safety Act” measure will be put before California voters during the November 2014 election.
The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act is named after the two children who were killed in an accident reportedly caused by a drug addict who had been recklessly prescribed thousands of narcotic painkillers. The doctors responsible were never held accountable.
The ballot is the first of its kind to address the nation’s “medical negligence” issue, as well as the $250,000 cap on recovery for pain and suffering or for a lost life. The cap was intended to deter medical errors and wrongdoing, but has not been adjusted to reflect 38 years of inflation throughout its existence.
According to a study by Journal of Patient Safety, “Medical negligence” and “preventable errors” in hospitals account for 440,000 deaths per year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States. According to a California Medical Board report, nearly one in five doctors will abuse alcohol or drugs at some point during their career, often due to factors such as “fatigue, stress, isolation, and easy access to drugs.” A recent USA Today reported of more than 100,000 U.S. physicians who suffer from substance abuse.
The Patient Safety Act creates new protections against drug and alcohol abuse by doctors by mandating random drug and alcohol testing. It also attempts to curb “doctor-shopping” drug abusers by requiring physicians to check the state’s existing prescription drug database before prescribing narcotics. The Act additionally requires reporting by a physician when a colleague is suspected of drug or alcohol abuse at work, or when his or her substandard care leads to an adverse event.