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Debating Proposition 46: Medical-malpractice damages, drug-testing docs

by AirTalk®

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A doctor's stethoscope left on a table via Flickr. Photo by Connor Tarter via Flickr Creative Commons

A hotly contested ballot issue this November is Proposition 46 focusing on medical malpractice suits and doctor drug-testing, pushed forward by Robert and Carmen Pack. The couple's two children, Troy and Alana, were killed by an intoxicated driver who'd been prescribed a plethora of narcotics.

The Packs say they were powerless to hold doctors accountable because of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA).When MICRA was signed in 1975, the signature at the bottom was none other than that of Governor Jerry Brown. Brown's approval limited medical malpractice damages to $250,000. That cap has remained in place for three decades. Proposition 46 seeks to raise that ceiling, bringing it up to $1,105,260 -- or approximately what the cap would be when adjusted for inflation. In addition to this raise, Prop 46 would require doctors to consult a patient's prescription history, before dispensing controlled substances. Finally, 46 would subject medical practitioners to random drug screenings, requiring the California Medical Board to suspend doctors while any positive test results are investigated.  Those voicing support for 46 include Consumer Watchdog and the Consumer Attorneys of California, who have collectively donated $1,375,148 to the campaign.

Meanwhile, the "No on 46" campaign represents a series of medical associations including the California Medical Association, labor unions and insurance providers. The campaign claims the ballot initiative only serves trial lawyers, leaving patients stuck to pay the extra costs necessary to compensate for higher malpractice insurance. As of last month, the Yes campaign raised $6.2 million and the No campaign raised $53.5 million, according to Voter’s Edge and MapLight, non-profit organizations dedicated to campaign transparency. What is a fair limit on lawsuits over medical negligence? Can this ballot initiative help with prescription drug abuse? Where do you stand on Prop. 46?

Prop 46 FAQ: What it will do, who's funding it and more

Poll: Do you support Prop 46?

Guests:

Bob Pack, Author of Proposition 46; Father of victims of medical negligence, Troy and Alana Pack

Dr. Hector Flores, MD, Co-Founder and Medical Director, Family Care Specialists Medical Group in East L.A.; Chairman of White Memorial Medical Center’s (WMMC) Dept. of Family Medicine

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