Saving Lives – Say “Yes” on Prop 46

I am not actively involved in politics and I hardly ever invite public debates on topics related to politics. I know I can’t cut the mustard, so I’ll let others do the arguing for me. That being said, there’s something out there that bugs me and I need to just spit it out. Have you heard of Prop 46 on the California ballot?

Yes on 46

It’s called The Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors Initiative. If passed, it would do exactly what its title says:

  • it will deal with the cap on pain and suffering for the victims of a medical negligence lawsuit, increasing it from the current $250,000 to over $1 million,
  • it will introduce a system of testing and reporting of doctors who show up at work under the influence of drug or alcohol, and
  • it will make it mandatory for doctors to check a prescription drug history database before prescribing certain controlled medication to patients.

Don’t all these points sound reasonable, sensible? Why would there -be- a cap on non-economic damages caused by the negligence of a medical professional who you entrusted with your life? Watch Annette Ramirez’s story below (somewhat graphic) and tell me whether $250,000 is a fair monetary match for what she had to go through and what her life has become after what should have been a “simple surgery”.

 

Inflation

The rising cost of living in MICRA era

This cap has been enacted in 1975. I guess the value on quality of life has decreased considerably over time. Inflation into account, the $250,000 non-economic cap would have been $57,600 in 1975.1

It beats me why the creation of a state-wide prescription drug history database would be an issue. Why is it okay to facilitate a person’s access to increased dosage of controlled substances? Why make it easy to doctor-shop in order to get multiple prescriptions of the same drug? This is what lead to the death of Troy and Alana Pack and their unborn twin brothers in 2003 – a driver under the effect of prescription drugs killed the two kids, and gravely injured their mom who had lost her pregnancy as a result. It was proven that the driver had seen six different doctors and managed to get her hands on hundreds of pain killers and muscle relaxants.2

I also don’t see how it can be an issue having doctors randomly tested for drug or alcohol use while on the job. If you are a doctor and this is inconvenient for you, you may be in the wrong field. In case you wished you were a bus driver, you should know that even they actually do have to pee in a cup. If you are not a doctor and this is bothersome, you are nuts. Even you, the most ardent lobbyist against this measure, would be totally bummed to say the least when your child would go in for a common appendix removal and end up with serious complications or, God forbid, dead because the doctor was still hungover, or tried to take the edge off with some pain killers.

The main argument of those opposing this ballot measure is that by quadrupling the limit on medical malpractice awards the health care costs would increase by millions of dollars every year. “California’s medical malpractice cap has not reduced health care costs; indexing the cap will not raise costs because malpractice-related costs are such an infinitesimally small portion of health care costs.”3

Those against the measure (mainly organizations and individuals representing doctors, nurses, community clinics, hospitals) argue that its true purpose is to increase profits for attorneys. “Medical malpractice litigation deters physicians and hospitals from committing medical errors and encourages them to gather and analyze information about past errors, thereby reducing the future costs associated with such errors. Without strong financial repercussions for malpractice, there is no incentive for doctors and hospitals to fix bad behavior. MICRA’s original strict attorneys fee structure is left entirely in place by the Pack Act.”4

So, come November 4th, when in the booth, think about what you are expecting of your doctor and what you would expect as compensation for a ruined life as a result of medical malpractice. Vote accordingly.

For more information visit Yes on 46.

 

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  1. California Proposition 46, Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors (2014). Ballotpedia. Retrieved on Oct 20, 2014 from http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_46,_Medical_Malpractice_Lawsuits_Cap_and_Drug_Testing_of_Doctors_(2014)#cite_note-wapo-2 []
  2. Troy Pack. Yes on 46. Retrieved on Oct 20, 2014 from https://www.yeson46.org/stories/troy-pack/ []
  3. California Proposition 46, Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors (2014). Ballotpedia. Retrieved on Oct 20, 2014 from http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_46,_Medical_Malpractice_Lawsuits_Cap_and_Drug_Testing_of_Doctors_(2014)#cite_note-wapo-2 []
  4. California Proposition 46, Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors (2014). Ballotpedia. Retrieved on Oct 20, 2014 from http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_46,_Medical_Malpractice_Lawsuits_Cap_and_Drug_Testing_of_Doctors_(2014)#cite_note-wapo-2 []

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