Bill to Require Doctors to Undergo Drug Testing Heads to Ballot

Emotional families whose loved ones died as a result of medical negligence spoke out Monday and delivered enough signatures to get it on the November ballot

By Christina Cocca and Conan Nolan
|  Monday, Mar 24, 2014  |  Updated 9:25 PM PDT
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A ballot measure was proposed to require doctors be randomly drug tested. Conan Nolan reports from Pasadena for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 24, 2014.

Conan Nolan, Scott Spiro

A ballot measure was proposed to require doctors be randomly drug tested. Conan Nolan reports from Pasadena for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 24, 2014.

Families who lost loved ones to medical negligence delivered thousands of signatures on Monday for a ballot measure that would require California doctors to undergo random drug testing.

The bill, the Troy And Alana Pack Act, is sponsored by Bob Pack -- a man whose children were killed in a car crash caused by an addict who was recklessly prescribed thousands of narcotic painkillers.

Several relatives of those who died as a result of medical malpractice tearfully recalled their experience at press conference Monday while holding photographs of their lost loved ones.

Supporters of the bill also spoke at the conference to announce 830,000 signatures, including one man whose father entered a vegetative state after an alleged alcoholic cardiologist walked out mid-surgery to go to lunch.

"Nearly one in five doctors, 18 percent of doctors, have a substance abuse problem during their careers," said Jamie Court of nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog.

The signatures were enough to get the measure in front of voters, strengthening the already-intense dispute between California lawyers and doctors.

The measure would: require random drug testings of doctors; require doctors to consult a database to make sure their patient isn't abusing prescription drugs before prescribing them to that patient; and lift the limit of $250,000 in "pain and suffering" damages in medical malpractice awards.

"If you lose a child because of medical negligence, the law says that child's life is worth $250,000," said Brian Kapitack of the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Doctors and hospitals, along with groups such as Planned Parenthood, are opposed to the bill and claim it is unnecessary, costly and badly timed with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

"This measure is really about just increasing trial lawyers fees," said Jason Kinney of the Protect Access Coalition.

Despite efforts by opposing groups to reach a compromise, California voters will have the final say when the measure appears on the ballot this November.

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