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June 3, 2014 > Landmark ÔPatient Safety ActÕ qualifies for November California ballot

Landmark ÔPatient Safety ActÕ qualifies for November California ballot

Submitted By Jamie Court, President, Consumer Watchdog

More than 840,000 voter signatures turned in by consumer advocates and families victimized by medical negligence have qualified a landmark patient safety ballot measure for the November 2014 California ballot, according to the Secretary of StateÕs office. Voters will have a chance then to enact the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act and some of the strongest patient safety laws in America.

ÒThe patient safety protections in this ballot measure will save lives and protect families from dangerous, impaired and drug dealing doctors Ó said Bob Pack, proponent of the Pack Act, whose two young children were killed by a drunk and drugged, doctor-shopping driver who had been overprescribed thousands of pills from Kaiser physicians despite not having physical symptoms. ÒToday, California voters have taken the first step in making sure that more families like mine donÕt have to experience the pain of losing a child due to dangerous medicine. No family should suffer because a doctor recklessly prescribes pills to an addict, is a substance abuser, or commits repeated acts of medical negligence.Ó

The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act:

Mandates random drug and alcohol testing of doctors modeled after the Federal Aviation AdministrationÕs testing of airline pilots, and testing after an adverse event in a hospital;

Requires that physicians check the stateÕs existing prescription drug database before prescribing narcotics and other addictive drugs to first-time patients to curb doctor-shopping drug abusers (Bob Pack created the database);

Promotes justice for patients and legal deterrence to wrongdoing by adjusting the state's malpractice cap to account for 38 years of inflation, while maintaining the existing cap on attorneysÕ fees;

Requires physicians to report suspected drug or alcohol abuse at work by a colleague, as well as physiciansÕ substandard care if it leads to an adverse event.

Pack, other survivors of medical negligence, and Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court went to Sacramento in May of 2013 to demand that either the legislature take action on improving patient safety or that voters would have to take matters into their own hands with a ballot measure.

Opponents of the Pack Act have already raised $34 million for its defeat.

Dr. Lucian Leape, widely considered the father of the modern patient safety movement, wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that doctors are especially susceptible to substance abuse and called for random drug testing for all physicians, saying that Òcontributing to [physician performance problems] are fatigue, stress, isolation, and easy access to drugs.Ó

The Pack Act indexes for inflation the 38-year old cap on malpractice recovery set at $250,000 for those without wage loss or medical bills, which the patients contend devalues the lives of children. No matter how egregious the malpractice, the most a patient can recover when a child dies from negligence is $250,000, preventing attorneys from taking most of those cases and letting dangerous doctors continue to practice.

Tammy Smick, who lost her 20-year old son Alex to a lethal mix of prescription drugs administered in the hospital, said of the Pack Act, ÒOur sonÕs life isnÕt worth $250,000 to us. Alex was priceless. The pain of losing a child is unbearable, but the victims of medical negligence deserve the accountability thatÕs been denied to them for almost four decades. The Pack Act will finally correct this injustice.Ó

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported recently that physicians are the biggest suppliers of chronic prescription drug abusers.

A ballot number for the Pack Act will be assigned next month. The Pack Act will appear on the November 4 ballot.

Learn more about the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act at www.PackAct.org.

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