Advocates Consider Amending Patient Safety Initiative To Include Reforms Legislature Failed to Pass
The California Medical Association blocked another bill aimed at improving patient safety yesterday, prompting consumer advocates and families harmed by dangerous doctors to consider amending a pending patient safety ballot measure to include those reforms the legislature fails to enact this year.
SB 670 (Steinberg) would have given the state Medical Board greater authority to impose temporary restrictions on physicians' prescribing licenses when reckless or illegal prescribing practices pose an immediate threat to patient health. The bill had already been significantly watered down to limit when the Board could act against a dangerous prescriber and keep most records confidential. It failed in the face of opposition by the California Medical Association after receiving just nine votes on the Assembly floor.
Bob Pack, who lost his young children to a drug-addicted driver who was overprescribed narcotics, introduced a ballot measure in July to enact patient safety reforms the physicians' lobby has consistently blocked in the legislature.
"I was forced to introduce a patient safety ballot measure because action by the legislature to stop overprescribing and dangerous doctors is long overdue. Now even modest reforms we thought the legislature could handle are failing because of the California Medical Association's stranglehold on politicians in Sacramento. If the legislature can't address these urgent patient safety issues, including emergency suspensions of doctors' licenses when their prescribing habits pose a threat to patient lives, we may have to add them to the initiative to ensure patients are protected," said Bob Pack.