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No on Proposition 46

By on October 19, 2014

Proposition 46: Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors. Medical Negligence Lawsuits. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 46: Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors. Medical Negligence Lawsuits. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 46 attempts to amend the current medical malpractice, prescription drug monitoring, and alcohol/drug testing protocols for current employed doctors in the state of California. This initiative wants to change protocols in that positive test results are reported to the California Medical Board, and the consequence of such results would be suspension of the doctor during the investigation period. Furthermore, any doctors suspecting other doctors of alcohol/drug abuse are required to report their findings to the state.

Along with the above, health care practitioners will be required to examine state prescription drug history databases before prescribing controlled substances to prevent the misuse of prescription drugs by patients. Currently in California, the state Department of Justice manages California’s prescription drug monitoring program, which is also known as Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES). Health care providers are only mandated to register with CURES, but not check it every time for a different patient, starting in 2016. Right now only 12% of all eligible providers are actually registered with CURES.

This initiative will require an increase of the $250,000 cap on pain and suffering damages in medical negligence lawsuits to account for the current inflation. The current $250,000 cap is reinforced by the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MIRCA), which was ratified to respond to a concern that many doctors would limit their practice due to numerous malpractice lawsuits. At this time, malpractice costs are projected to be about 2% of total annual health care spending in California.

If approved, the fiscal impact of this bill could be immense. There would be a definite increase on state and local government’s health care costs from raising the cap on medical malpractice lawsuits. This raise could be as high as several hundred million dollars. Presently, the state and local government in California spend around tens of billions of dollars annually on health care services ranging from purchasing services directly from health care providers to operating health care facilities. Undetermined, but potentially important, is how much the state and local governments would save. With a change in the protocols involving prescribing specific controlled substances, there can be some savings, which will offset some of the costs from implementing this bill.

The mainly supporters of this proposition are lawyers, consumer watchdog groups, and families that have tragically suffered from medical malpractices. Furthermore, it has been endorsed by some of the state’s most powerful Democrats, including Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, according to an article published in the New York Times.

Other people that mainly support this prop is because they have other reasons that have not monetary gain from it. For instance, Bob Pack, father of victims of preventable medical error, is sponsoring Proposition 46 because a drugged driver killed Bob’s children after multiple doctors recklessly prescribed narcotics to her. Bob wants to prevent such a tragedy from happening to other families.

Preventable medical errors kill up to 440,000 people a year in in the United States. Prop 46 claims that it will help reduced that number by holding doctors accountable for medical errors. Doctors will be accountable when they commit negligence while practicing their services, including while impaired by drugs or alcohol. The damages of malpractice will be raised tremendously from $250,000 to $1.1 Million, which will cause doctors to be more careful before seeing a patient.

It promises that it will save lives by reducing the prescription drug abuse. Proposition 46 will require doctors to check their patients’ medical prescription regarding addictive painkillers or other type of narcotics that may cause death if there is an overdose of those prescriptions.

Lastly, it promises that will save eve more lives by protecting patients from impaired doctors. With Pro 46, doctors will be required to be randomly drug tested an alcohol tested. Also, doctors will be required to notified if other doctors are practicing other those intoxicating substances. In the failure of drug or alcohol test, the doctor’s license will be suspended to able to comply with the policy.

The medical industry, including doctors, hospitals and medical insurance companies are the ones that are opposing the bill. Doctors are the most affected by this proposition due to the increase on the amount of money given to those afflicted for pain and suffering. Those that are against this law state that the main reason this bill shouldn’t be passed is because it will just make it easier for lawyers to sue doctors and just profit from the lawsuit. This prop would not help the medical community at all, or the patients; it would only benefit greedy lawyers. For instance, Dr. Thorp said: “That’s a great theoretical question. But we’re not dealing with a theoretical initiative. We are dealing with this state initiative. We cannot pass this initiative as it is written today. It is a flawed, deceptive ballot initiative, with one goal in mind: to increase money for trial lawyers.” in article published by the New York Times.

Prop 46 will cause the quadruple of the limit on medical malpractice awards. Also, all the money used to pass this law will end millions of dollars to our state’s debt, just so lawyers can profit more from malpractice lawsuits. Many physicians, particularly specialists, will end up closing their private practices due to the high overhead of liability insurance. They move to practicing medicine or they will leave the state.

If the majority of the doctors leaves, this will limit the options available for the patients. Now, they will have to rely on healthcare more than before, which in the end harms patient care and we would be unable to receive the proper care that we are looking for.

Another major negative aspect of this proposition is that it threatens our privacy by requiring a massive expansion of the use of personal prescription drug database. If the database is not secure, all of the information could be become public. Therefore, it could cause the violation of privacy of many patients that needs those prescriptions drugs. Not only will violate their privacy, but also it could cost their careers or other emotional suffering.

If the proposition where to be approved, California would become the first state to require doctors to get drug tested. Therefore, Prop 46 is being closely watched by doctors across the country and it has caught the media’s attention greatly including TV shows, radio, and newspapers.

The campaigns that are currently debating whether to say “yes” or “no” to proposition 46 are definitely well-funded. The proponents and the opponents of proposition 46 both have a strong financial support. The proponents have wealthy lawyers and the opponents have wealthy doctors supporting their own cause.

Public opinion may differ depending on how well informed the population is about this prop. Those who are misinformed may support this prop, because in theory it will help doctors be better doctors and less malpracticing will occur. However, if the individuals are more informed on the prop and read the fine lines, they will see how much money this will cost our government, and that those who support passing this law are just wealthy lawyers who want to earn more money while costing our government more. Public opinion will definitely vary from area to area, all depends on how well informed the people are.

The proposition 46 is very one sided for those who want to make money from an easy lawsuit. It doesn’t intend to make practicing medicine safer, it wants to up the prices for any mistake made, with the money going to the lawyers invested in this bill. It may offer the solution of dealing with malpractice here in California, but there is an underlying cause that needs to be investigated.

The lawyers in California want to make more money out of the lawsuit they have against the medical industry. The main bad side effect of this prop is that it has quadruple the cap of malpractice compensation. This will make most of the doctors in California to leave to other states, and it will make most lawyers in this field of law wealthier. Since there is so much more money involved, the lawsuit against malpractice will raise tremendously causing the insurance for doctors to raise, which ultimate will affect the patients paying more. However, most of the people are not aware of this main detail since the prop is mainly disguised as drug and alcohol testing for doctors.

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