Many employees in professions are routinely subject to performing drug tests to ensure they avoid dangerous workplace accidents or negligence. Pilots, commercial drivers, and even waiters in some restaurants have rules that allow mandatory drug tests on the suspicion of impairment or after an accident occurs on the job. However, some are starting to wonder why physicians do not have similar guidelines that confirm they are clean of substances that could potentially cause major harm to patients.
According to Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog, an estimated 18% of doctors suffer from substance abuse addictions at some point in their career. This may be because of how easy it is for members of the medical community to obtain painkillers. Additionally, research has indicated many physicians would not necessarily take action against a colleague they suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In a field where their career literally handles matters of life and death, it seems that enacting mandatory drug tests is common sense, right?
18% of Doctors Have Substance Abuse Problems at Some Point in Their Lives
Are Physicians Not Careful Enough When Writing Prescriptions?
Many feel that medical community should have more strict regulations for providing prescriptions. A lot of doctors are too freely handing out dangerous pharmaceuticals without taking proper measures to make sure that the patient isn’t already given drugs by another healthcare professional. Accidental drug-overdoses and accidents that occur from irresponsibly prescribed patients are a major issue.
The Troy and Alana Pack Act
In March, an estimated 860,000 signatures were collected on a bill that could ultimately change how the system is regulated in California regarding drug tests for doctors. This crackdown on prescription drugs, titled The Troy and Alana Pack Act, would be able to hopefully avoid certain painkiller-related problems in the near future.
The bill has surfaced after heavy lobbying over a decade after a man named Bob Peck lost his two children in a car accident that was caused by a painkiller addict who had been “doctor-shopping.” “Doctor-shopping” is the term used for pharmaceutical-addicted people who visit more than one physician to gain multiple gateways to pills. When this happens, it puts the patient in danger as well as innocent members of society. As it stands, no criminal charges have been made on the doctors responsible for what many feel recklessly providing someone with an excess of painkillers. The new legislature, which will be voted on in November of this year, will make a few changes to how physicians in the state of California perform.
The proposed changes include requiring random drug testing for doctors, databases to be used when ordering patient medications to avoid allowing over-prescribing, and to adjust the current malpractice cap. At the moment, $250,000 is the reward for damages associated with physician negligence. This has upset certain individuals which feel that the cap puts the value of life at a measly $250,000. Advocates of The Troy and Alana Pack Act feel that due to inflation, the cap of $250k that was put into place in the 1970’s is no longer adequate payment for the detrimental effect caused by irresponsible medical professionals. Additional, mandatory measures the act would initiate are requirements for healthcare practitioners to report suspicion of physicians who work working while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
However, not everyone is on board with the proposed bill. Some are criticizing the proposed bill stating that in conjunction with newly proposed Affordable Care Act adjustments and its possible strain on taxpayers, patients, and medical professionals. What do you think?
For more information on the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, click here.