One state will be voting on proposed law and seems to be concerned with raising the cap on monetary awards for patients who have been harmed by their physicians. However, the bill also contains provisions that may help prevent some instances of medical malpractice altogether. While this battle is not being waged in Massachusetts, the language in the bill addresses problems that may apply to doctors everywhere.
While the bill faces strong opposition from malpractice insurance providers (as well as large segments of the medical community), the legislation calls for drug and alcohol testing for doctors who have admitted problems with substance abuse. Doctors who are found to have been in violation of policies for substance abuse issues would be required to submit blood, urine and hair samples for testing in order to ensure that they are complying with their probation provisions. There is another provision included for patient protection.
The bill was initiated by a bereaved father who lost his children to a driver under the influence of narcotics. The driver was purportedly able to obtain the medicines by seeking out multiple physicians for prescriptions. That has led to another provision contained in the proposed law. This provision stipulates that doctors would be required to consult a drug prescription registry before issuing any new prescriptions for narcotic pain relievers.
These two proposed requirements contained in the language of the bill may provide some extra measure of protection for patients in California. While many states have treatment programs for doctors who struggle with addiction, this particular state does not. In addition, a nationwide registry for prescription providers could also potentially save lives. Massachusetts residents are already protected by many medical malpractice provisions. They are also ensured of the right to pursue just compensation through a malpractice claim against any provider who has caused them to suffer greater harm.
Source: capitolweekly.net, “Doctors’ drug tests: a divisive issue“, Sigrid Bathen, Oct. 19, 2014