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New Ballot Measure Will Require Doctors To Undergo Drug Testing

The measure is sponsored by Bob Pack, a California man whose children died in a car crash caused by an addict.

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Bob and Carmen Pack with Troy and Alana.
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By McCarton Ackerman

03/27/14

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An emotionally charged ballot measure that California voters will decide on in November could require doctors throughout the state to undergo routine drug testing.

The Troy And Alana Pack Act is being sponsored by Bob Pack, a man whose children died in a car crash caused by an addict who doctor-shopped and was prescribed thousands of narcotics painkillers. The ballot measure has already collected 830,000 signatures and has been spurred on by grieving families who lost loved ones due to medical negligence.

The bill would require doctors to undergo random drug testing, consult a database to make sure their patients aren’t already abusing drugs before writing prescriptions, and drastically increase the limit of $250,000 in "pain and suffering" damages in medical malpractice awards. Among the most egregious cases of negligence reported are one man who entered a vegetative state after his allegedly alcoholic cardiologist walked out in the middle of surgery to get lunch. Jamie Court of nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog said that, “18 percent of doctors have a substance abuse problem during their careers.”

But many doctors and hospitals who have opposed the measure believe it’s unnecessary and expensive. Jason Kinney of the Protect Access Coalition said the measure is “really just about increasing trial lawyer’s fees.”

It's not just doctors abusing drugs themselves that lawmakers are concerned about. Last March, lawmakers in Sacramento called for the Medical Board of California to use a statewide prescription database known as CURES to help identify which doctors are overprescribing narcotics.

"If we are going to take seriously the role of patient protection, then we have to be proactive in determining if there is a pattern of overprescribing," said Assemblyman Richard Gordon, who co-chairs a joint legislative panel that oversees the medical board.

Currently, the board only launches investigations in response to complaints.

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