This November, there will be an important proposition on the ballot that all advocates of older adults should be aware of. The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, also known as Proposition 46, is a ballot initiative that will protect patients from corporate greed in healthcare services. It is imperative that anyone concerned with elder abuse vote Yes on Proposition 46.
Proposition 46 will accomplish three things: 1) require health care providers to check a uniform database before prescribing medication to prevent drug abuse; 2) require doctors to take a drug and alcohol test; and 3) increase the limits on noneconomic damages for medical malpractice cases.
Older adults take many prescription medications. National Institute on Drug Abuse states that, older adults make up more than a third of all outpatient prescription medication cost even though they are a minority of the general population. California currently has a database that monitors how medication is prescribed and dispensed to prevent various types of drug abuse. This is called the CURES program, or Controlled Substance Utilization Review, and is administered by the Department of Justice. Proposition 46 mandates that physicians and pharmacists check CURES before prescribing or dispensing medication. Doctors would be advised through CURES about existing prescription, especially for strong painkillers (such as Vicodin and OxyContin) that carry a high risk of abuse.
Healthcare providers are also at risk of substance abuse. National Institutes of Health studies show that 10-15% of professionals in the medical field will abuse drugs or alcohol. Therefore, there is a risk that doctors are providing care to vulnerable patients under the influence. Proposition 46 prevents this risk by requiring hospitals to perform drug and alcohol testing on doctors working at the hospital. If a doctor tests positive for substance use, the hospital will be required to report the test result to the Medical Board. This proposal will protect patients from doctors who are not fit to provide care.
Lastly, Proposition 46 will also lift the current limit on damages that a patient can collect with medical malpractice suits. The current limit on noneconomic damages (such as pain and suffering) for medical malpractice is $250,000, which was set in 1975 and was never adjusted for the price of inflation. This limit has hurt the most vulnerable and injured patients. Forbes Magazine found that victims could not find lawyers that would represent them when they were harmed by doctors, because of the low recoverable damages compared to the high cost of these cases. Medical malpractice cases often require expensive experts and long court proceedings, and the current limitation is unethical and immoral. Furthermore, older adults who suffer medical malpractice are likely retired and no longer working, and therefore rely mostly on noneconomic damages when injured. Proposition 46 will lift this limit on noneconomic damages and allow lawyers to represent vulnerable clients zealously so that they can get the compensation that they deserve.
Proposition 46 will protect the elderly from prescription abuse, corporate greed by healthcare providers, and will enable their rights to fight when harmed. The new proposed law will allow lawyers to fully represent clients who suffer immense harm. At the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi, we rigorously defend the rights and interests of older adults and their loved ones. Mr. Yeroushalmi and his staff are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about elder abuse and neglect litigation. If you or a loved one is a victim of elder abuse or neglect, please contact us immediately for a free, no obligation consultation. We will advocate to protect the rights to which you and your loved one are entitled. We service cities throughout northern and southern California.