A primary goal of a proposed ballot initiative for California’s November election is designed to increase the non-economic damages cap on medical malpractice awards in the state. But the father of two children killed a decade ago by a driver who was under the influence of painkillers is concerned with educating others about the other provisions of the proposal.
The father hopes that the initiative will bring attention to the issue of the distribution of dangerous prescription drugs. Not only would the law require doctors to check a prescription database to check for evidence of patients ‘doctor-shopping’ to load up on prescriptions, but it would also require doctors themselves to be tested for drugs and alcohol on a random basis.
The drugged driver of the car that killed the two children had sought painkillers from different doctors before the crash. The family only received $500,000 for their pain and suffering due to the current medical malpractice guidelines, which provided a $250,000 per claim. The new law would increase the cap based upon inflation since the measure was originally passed. In 2014, that adjustment would increase the cap to $1.1 million per claim.
Even though the driver was convicted and is serving jail time, the doctor who prescribed the painkillers escaped consequences both criminally and by the Medical Board of California. The children’s father hopes that the law would make doctors more accountable and subject to more serious disciplinary measures, which ideally would prevent future tragedies.
Regardless of the success of the initiative with voters, no amount of money can replace lives that are lost as a result of a negligent physician’s prescription of drugs. However, it is important that those who lose loved ones as a result of medical malpractice are able to seek justice and avoid suffering related financial burdens.
Source: Sacramento Business Journal, “Bereaved father explains ‘the sweeteners’ in malpractice measure,” Kathy Robertson, May 9, 2014