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Iron Kay — Insurance Companies Pick Fight With Wrong Family

12:30 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Iron KayDan Shea’s Aunt Kay was 83, vibrant and healthy in 2011, when she suffered terrible injuries in a head-on accident. Kay spent five months in the hospital rehabilitating and being repaired with so many metal parts that the family dubbed her “Iron Kay.”

Then the real fight began—one that changed Dan, a San Diego civic booster and Republican notable, into an implacable foe of insurance company tactics. He’s told Kay’s story in a short, even charming, video, “The Iron Lady,” that calmly exposes corporations trying to outwait Kay’s lifespan to preserve their profits.

Farmers and two affiliates of Nationwide have been resisting a settlement for more than two years and counting. It’s costing the corporations a bundle, but if Kay dies before their legal options run out, they’ll save a bundle. It’s a perfectly legal tactic, which Dan is determined to change. The fight is Kay’s reason for living through her pain.

Kay will never be the same: She can’t drive and can barely walk. She’s living with family and dependent on them. But she’s fully determined to get as far back to normal as possible.

Kay expected to at least recover financial independence, even after $800,000 in hospital bills. Both Kay and family of the 17-year-old boy in the truck were very well-insured by major companies. The boy was at fault, but there was no rancor between the families.

Then they encountered the insurance lawyers. It ultimately dawned on them that the insurance companies would benefit by delaying until Kay died, to make most of their liability disappear.

Kay originally did not want to sue, so Dan asked for mediation. Farmers Insurance, the boy’s insurer, agreed but stalled for months. Then the insurers offered a ridiculously low settlement–barely over half of the medical bills, much less her ongoing medical costs. Then they stalled some more and tried intimidating Kay with a long deposition about her life since adolescence.

When the case got to court in October of last year, within a few days a jury spurned the insurers’ argument that they really owed little, and awarded Kay $2.1 million dollars.

Kay hasn’t gotten a penny. The insurance companies stalled again, and on January 7 they demanded a new trial. When it’s denied, they can file for an appeal. That could string out for a year or two.

Dan Shea found that having plenty of insurance, no matter how much it costs in premiums, doesn’t mean the company will protect you when you need it. And that everything the insurers have done is within the law.

Dan and his family have the determination and resources to keep fighting, and Dan is calling on state legislators to fix these interminable delays.

The fix shouldn’t stop at auto and property insurance. There are also horrible insurance company incentives embedded in state medical malpractice law. For instance, if an infant is severely disabled by medical negligence, insurers for the doctor and hospital could have to pay millions for a lifetime of expert care.

If the baby somehow dies, its economic value dies, too. The law in California restricts dead-child lawsuits to such a low payout that grieving parents usually can’t even get a lawyer to take their case. So what incentive does an at-fault hospital or doctor have to keep that baby alive?

The same is true if the wronged patient suffers a terminal illness—why pay now if you can stall until the problem literally goes away?

We need more people with Dan’s determination to change this.

Posted by Judy Dugan, Research Director Emeritus for Consumer Watchdog.

To the Ballot for Alana and Troy

12:57 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Pack MemorialLast Sunday, at the 10th memorial of my children’s death, we started a march to the ballot for patient safety. I hope you will join us. My seven year old, Alana, and ten year old, Troy, died because an addict got thousands of pills she never should have been prescribed since she had no physical symptoms.

She fell asleep at the wheel, swerved off the road and killed Alana and Troy. Yesterday we gathered the first signatures at Troy and Alana’s elementary school for the Troy and Alana Patient Safety Act — which seeks to stop substance abuse among patients and physicians, as well as creating legal deterrence for reckless prescribing and dangerous medicine.

As I wrote in an oped in last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle, we are going directly to the voters because the state’s medical association has opposed modest reform of patient safety laws at every turn in the legislature.

No family should have to live through what mine has because doctors didn’t know or care that they were prescribing thousands of pills to a drug addict.

In the coming weeks, you will be seeing signature gatherers at your local markets asking for your signature for the Pack Patient Safety Act. Please take a moment to sign and help us bring these critical issues of patient safety to the voters of California. We need 504,000 signatures from voters to make the November 2014 election, please help us help other families avoid the needless pain mine has had to endure. If you would like to learn more about the Pack Act and get involved in the signature gathering effort, please visit http://www.packact.org.


Posted by Bob Pack – Creator of the California CURES database and proponent of the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Act.

I Support Planned Parenthood, Why Isn’t Planned Parenthood Supporting Women?

3:09 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Planned ParenthoodFifteen women and mothers whose lives have been devastated by medical negligence wrote to the CEOs of Planned Parenthood today asking them to reverse a position that is devastating to women’s health and access to justice in California. The letter asked the CEOs to reverse their position on a proposed ballot measure to change a law that has discriminated against women for the last 38 years.

Read the letter here.

“We are women whose lives have been shattered by medical negligence,” they wrote. “We take issue with Planned Parenthood’s leading role in opposition to ‘The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act,’ a pending California ballot measure that would simply update for inflation the state’s 38 year old cap on compensation in medical malpractice cases. The outdated cap is unfair to many who have suffered medical harm, regardless of gender. But it has a disproportionate impact on women.”

“Planned Parenthood’s opposition to the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act is against the interests of women in this state – your core constituency. The unfair, antiquated and sexist cap perpetuates an injustice against women that must be remedied. As a group that has been so deeply impacted by medical negligence and this outdated law, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you in hopes you will reconsider your position on the ballot measure and support a reasonable index of the cap for inflation to bring California’s patient safety laws and women’s access to justice into the 21st century.”

Read more about the medical negligence suffered by the 15 women and their families here.

The letter explained how the limits on patients’ legal rights in medical negligence cases particularly harms women.

“In much the same way that the glass ceiling continues to undercut the income of working women, the malpractice cap on noneconomic damages means compensation for those harmed by medical negligence is largely determined by the income of the person who was injured. The calculus is simple and sexist.”

“A stay-at-home parent with no income or a parent who works only part-time to be able to spend more time with the children will be treated very differently under the cap than someone who is working full-time at a high-paying job.”

“A woman whose child was killed by medical negligence, or who lost her ability to have children due to medical negligence, or who underwent an unnecessary mastectomy due to medical negligence, is not likely to lose income. But she has clearly suffered a grievous injury. Her compensation for her loss is limited to an amount below what anyone would consider fair in 2013.”

Planned Parenthood is usually a champion for women’s rights, so their backwards position on this issue is particularly stunning. Luckily, there’s still time before the initiative reaches the ballot for the leaders of Planned Parenthood to listen to the women of California and recant.

Read the rest of this entry →

Historic Step for Patient Safety & Victims’ Rights

5:30 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Bob PackWe just wanted to let you know that we have filed a ballot measure that has been 37 years in the making. If we collect about 750,000 valid signatures, voters will have a chance to adjust for inflation a three and a half decade-old cap on the value of a child’s life if he or she is killed by medical negligence — a $250,000 limit that has never been changed.

Bob Pack, who lost his seven year-old daughter and ten year-old son on a roadside nine years ago, is the author of the ballot measure to address the drug overdose and physician accountability issues at the heart of his family’s tragedy, which you can read about below.

California voters have helped us qualify one initiative for next year’s ballot already — the Health Insurance Rate Public Justification and Accountability Act. Now we wanted to let you know that there will soon be opportunities for you to work with us on a new health care reform measure that deals with patient safety issues. 2014 is shaping up to be “The Year of the Patient.” If you want to help out, please email us at yearofthepatient@consumerwatchdog.org and let us know what you are willing to do.

The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act includes the following changes to California law:

  • Mandatory random drug and alcohol testing for physicians and mandatory physician drug and alcohol testing after reports of adverse events;
  • Mandatory use by physicians of the electronic CURES database, a searchable system that tracks prescriptions dispensed in California, which Pack developed for the state of California in the wake of his family’s tragedy;
  • Adjusting for inflation the 37-year-old $250,000 cap on recovery for medical negligence victims, which has not changed since 1975, and as the author of the original law, Barry Keene, recently came forward to support;
  • Requiring doctors who witness substance abuse by physicians or medical negligence to report it, and protecting those physicians from lawsuits by other doctors when they do.

Why is Bob Pack, our recent Rage for Justice Award-winner, taking on this cause?

Alana and Troy Pack were walking on a sidewalk in Danville with Bob’s wife, Carmen, when a drugged driver fell unconscious at the wheel and swerved off the road, killing the two children and injuring Carmen. The Packs also lost their unborn twins.

The driver, Jimena Barreto, turned out to be a doctor-shopping drug addict who was convicted of second-degree murder and imprisoned for 30 years to life. The Kaiser doctors who prescribed her thousands of pills, however, were never held accountable for their negligence.

Barreto had no physical symptoms, but managed to stockpile narcotics without any oversight.

In the wake of his family’s tragedy, Pack found that Kaiser’s doctors had no idea they were all over-prescribing to the same doctor shopper. There was no computer system tracking prescriptions patients received. Pack drew on his technology background to develop the electronic CURES database, a searchable system that tracks prescriptions dispensed in California. Unfortunately, too few doctors currently use the system. Kaiser does not use the CURES database either.

The Packs were only entitled to the cap of $250,000 for each of their children’s lives, because that is the maximum value of a child’s life under the 37-year-old cap on noneconomic damages signed into law during Jerry Brown’s first term as Governor. The cap is worth merely $58,000 today in 1975 dollars. Adjusting the cap for inflation would increase it to $1.1 million in 2013.

You can read the ballot measure here. You can read Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton’s column on the ballot measure here.

We’re off to the ballot again.

Posted by Jamie Court, author of The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell and President of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Hall of Famer Speaks Out In Bee On His Family’s Tragedy And Patient Safety

6:27 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Bob PackThe war over patient safety is heating up in Sacramento. Yesterday, Pulitizer Prize winning Los Angeles Times columnist Mike Hiltzik wrote a cut-to-the-heart of it column shredding the phony arguments of those resisting the patient safety reforms Bob Pack and Consumer Watchdog have been fighting for all year.

Hiltzik said,

It’s a very rare thing for a legislator to admit that a law he sponsored hasn’t worked out as expected. It’s even rarer for him to label it “oppressive” and call for its revision…It’s time to bring this 37-year-old law into the 21st century, and fix the malpractice system so that it actually works.

In today’s Sac Bee, Consumer Watchdog’s Rage for Justice Awards Hall of Famer Bob Pack responds to the medical-insurance lobby’s oped yesterday opposing reform by talking about why his family’s tragedy spurred his activism. Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg even weighed in on the debate saying, “It’s not going to go away.”

Here’s Bob’s powerful oped:

Viewpoints: Cap on medical negligence claims is outdated and unfair to victims
July 11, 2013

When my 7-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son died suddenly on a roadside nine years ago, I was forced to confront not only the unimaginable grief of losing my young children forever, but also the reality that doctor discipline and accountability in California don’t exist.

Alana and Troy were walking on a sidewalk in Danville with my wife, Carmen, when a drugged driver fell unconscious at the wheel and swerved off the road, killing my two children and injuring Carmen. We also ended up losing our unborn twins as well.

The driver, Jimena Barreto, turned out to be a doctor-shopping drug addict who was convicted of second-degree murder and imprisoned for 30 years to life. The Kaiser doctors who prescribed her thousands of pills, however, were never held accountable for their negligence.

Barreto had no physical symptoms, but managed to stockpile narcotics without any oversight.

In the wake of my family’s tragedy, I found that Kaiser’s doctors had no idea they were all over-prescribing to the same doctor shopper. There was no computer system tracking prescriptions patients received. Since my background is in technology, I developed the electronic CURES database, a searchable system that tracks prescriptions dispensed in California.

Today, the tool is at the disposal of every doctor, law enforcement official and regulator in the state. Unfortunately, most of them don’t use it.

This is the sad story of the last 3 1/2 decades in California: physicians largely unwilling to police themselves, regulators turning a blind eye to available information about dangerous doctors, and a lack of legal deterrence to medical negligence.

The core of the failed doctor disciplinary system that killed my four children dates back to 1975. It was a punch in my gut when I learned that a California law capped the value of my children’s lives at $250,000.

Jerry Brown signed the law in his first term as governor, 37 years ago, and the amount has never been adjusted for inflation.

At the time, doctors promised that a strong new regulatory system would make up for the lost deterrence of the legal system, but patient safety scandals continue to rock California.

Kaiser still doesn’t utilize the CURES database. The physicians responsible for the death of my children were never disciplined by the California Medical Board. In fact, the current president of the medical board was the medical director at Kaiser who refused to make changes at the HMO following my family’s tragedy.

In 1975, legislators made $22,000 per year. Back then, a gallon of gasoline cost 57 cents. The value of everything has gone up since 1975, but not the $250,000 cap on the value of a child’s life.

The law is one size fits all, no matter how clear the negligence or how catastrophic the injury or loss. It sets a fixed cap on the value of a child’s life, and does the same to others whose quality of life is destroyed when their limbs, or vision, or ability to have a child are taken away by negligent doctors.

Of course, Troy and Alana were priceless. No amount of money can replace them. But when a child’s life is valued so little, patients face continued risks because the medical establishment has no incentive to change.

It’s time to adjust this 37-year-old cap so it is in line with the cost of living. Recently Barry Keene, the author of the law, came forward to say it should be indexed for inflation, and that was always the Legislature’s intent.

There is no danger malpractice insurance rates will rise. Since 1988, California’s malpractice insurance rates have been tightly regulated.

Unfortunately, the Legislature has not acted, which is why I am working with Consumer Watchdog on a ballot initiative, “The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act,” for the 2014 ballot. If California lawmakers are unwilling to prevent another family from going through the same tragedy Carmen and I faced, the voters will have their chance.

Read the rest of this entry →

Top Ten Dangerous Doctors Are Poster Children for Patient Safety Reform

1:49 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Top Ten Dangerous DoctorsTen doctors that the California Medical Board failed to take off the streets before repeated acts of negligence and patient endangerment harmed or killed their patients make the case for reforming California’s patient safety laws, said Consumer Watchdog today.

Consumer Watchdog released a “Top Ten Dangerous Doctors” list of physicians whose negligence injured or even killed their patients.

These ten dangerous doctors are some of the most egregious overprescribers, repeat offenders, and drug and alcohol users in California. Their stories show the urgent need for action by California lawmakers to replace a Medical Board that has allowed bad doctors to continue to practice, and to raise the outdated cap on patients’ ability to hold negligent doctors accountable in court.

Last month, Consumer Watchdog joined the 38IsTooLate.org coalition to announce a patient safety ballot measure that will raise the cap on damages in medical negligence lawsuits and require physicians to check a prescription drug database before prescribing narcotics. The coalition, including Bob Pack who lost his two children to a drug addict who was overprescribed narcotics, will place the measure on the ballot if the legislature fails to enact patient safety reform legislation this year.

The “Top Ten Dangerous Doctors” who make the case for patient safety reform include:

  • Dr. Van Vu and Dr. Carlos Estiandan, identified as over-prescribers in a Los Angeles Times investigation and who together had at least 25 patients die from prescription drug overdoses. Neither has lost their medical license.
  • Dr. Aria Omar Sabit and Dr. Israel Chambi, neurosurgeons who together have had at least 55 medical malpractice lawsuits filed against them. Chambi continues to practice despite 10 malpractice settlements and having lost his post at two medical centers. No action was taken against Sabit after he moved his practice out of state.
  • Dr. Craig Alan Bittner, Dr. Efrain Gonzalez (and his wife Dr. Yessennia Candelaria), all physicians who practiced cosmetic surgery with no formal training. The three had their licenses suspended or revoked by the Medical Board only after arrests had taken place and at least 21 of their patients were severely disfigured.
  • Dr. Brian West and Dr. Daryl Westerback were each arrested twice for driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs. West did not lose his license until nine years after the first complaint against him and being arrested for drunk driving on the way to treat a patient. Westerback, who is accused of treating patients while under the influence, lost his license to prescribe but continues to practice.
  • Dr. Andrew Rutland had his license revoked a decade ago after the deaths of two infants and 15 malpractice claims, but was reinstated five years later. Rutland lost his license again in 2011 after being found responsible for another patient death.
  • Dr. Shane Sheibani, a plastic surgeon who left dozens of patients disfigured, had his license suspended in 2009 but continued to practice and harm patients for three more years before his license was finally revoked.

Reforms being considered in “The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act” include:

  • Raising or repealing the cap on damages in medical malpractice cases.
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol testing for doctors.
  • Full funding of the CURES database and mandatory use by physicians before prescribing narcotics.
  • Medical Board reform including a public member majority, increased transparency of complaints and transferring investigative powers to the Department of Justice.

Top Ten Dangerous Doctors

Top 10 Dangerous Doctors

Dr. Aria Omar Sabit

Neurosurgeon. Twenty lawsuits were filed against Sabit stemming from the 17 months he practiced in Ventura County, alleging misplaced screws in spinal fusions, post-op infections and botched brain surgery. Victims say Sabit made so many mistakes in such a short period of time that Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura and Ventura County Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group should have intervened long before the medical group fired him in December 2010. Attorneys for those patients have dubbed Sabit “The Butcher.” Community Memorial officials said they asked the Medical Board of California to investigate. In February 2012 Medical Board representatives would not comment on the possibility of an investigation involving Sabit, but told a reporter no action had been taken against him since he was licensed to practice in California in 2009. Sabit is now practicing in Michigan.

Dr. Van Vu

Read the rest of this entry →

Give my 6-week-old daughter’s death meaning

7:30 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

38 Is Too Late BillboardMy baby Mia died in a hospital at just 6 weeks of age from whooping cough in the middle of a whooping cough epidemic because doctors didn’t give her a simple test.

A 38-year-old law says her life is only worth $250,000 – that is the value of a child in California when they’re harmed by the health care industry. It’s wrong, and it’s the reason medical negligence is so common today – there’s little price to pay when something goes wrong.

We should not have to put up a billboard in Sacramento to get the Legislature’s attention to change the law, but we did. It’s on Highway I-80 so state legislators will consider updating the antiquated law that for the past 38 years has put a discriminatory limit on the value of a precious life like Mia’s.

Will you help me keep this billboard up with a donation today?

You can read more about Mia and watch a video at 38istoolate.org, where you can join our movement to update patient safety laws in California and better protect patients.

Please take a minute to donate and learn more.
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Posted by Alejandra Gonzalez-Chavez, Special to Consumer Watchdog. Follow Consumer Watchdog online on Facebook and Twitter.

My Son’s Life Is Worth More

2:16 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Press ConferenceSince 1975 the value of everything has gone up, except the value of my son’s life under California law.

Last week my son, Steven and I went to Sacramento to say “38 years is too late.” We announced a ballot initiative to create stronger patient safety laws and adjust this nearly 38 year-old law. You can join our efforts by reading our story and others of patients like us at the new site “38 is too late” and liking our Facebook page.

In California, no matter how badly a child is hurt, or even if they are killed by gross medical negligence, the value of their life is only $250,000, an amount set by the Legislature nearly 38 years ago. That’s just not right.

When my son Steven was a toddler, he fell on a stick while hiking near his grandmother’s cabin in the mountains. The hospital pumped Steven up with steroids and sent him away with a growing brain abscess, although we had asked for a CAT scan because we knew Steven was not well. The next day, he came back to the hospital comatose. Medical experts later concluded that had he received the $800 CAT scan, he almost certainly would have been successfully treated.

Today, at 23 years old, Steven is blind and has cerebral palsy. Even though a jury heard our case and said Steven should receive $7.1 million for the horrible losses he will suffer for the rest of his life, the judge reduced the amount to $250,000 under California’s one size fits all cap.

Kathy and Steven OlsenThe jurors only found out that their verdict had been reduced by reading about it in the newspaper. They expressed their outrage, but the Legislature has not heard them, or patients like me. The cap has not been adjusted for almost 38 years, since Governor Brown signed the law in his first administration.

The ballot measure Consumer Watchdog and The Troy and Alana Pack Foundation announced in the Capitol last week would lift the cap so juries can make their own decisions on a case by case basis. The measure also reforms the state’s Medical Board and creates greater disclosure about prescription drug overdoses and the role of dangerous doctors.

The “38 Is Too Late” group will go to the ballot this fall if the Legislature doesn’t act. I hope you will join me in sending a message to lawmakers that they should act and then join our community online on our website and on Facebook.

You can read more about this historic moment from an article in last week’s Los Angeles Times.
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Posted by Kathy Olsen, Board Member of Consumer Watchdog. Follow Consumer Watchdog online on Facebook and Twitter.

Statehouse Responds: Threatens to Put Medical Board Out of Business

2:31 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Enough is Enough

Last month, at an emotional in hearing in Sacramento and in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, we called for the state agency that oversees doctors to become a stronger regulator or to go out of business. The Legislature has to renew the doctor-run medical board every ten years, and that’s this year. Sacramento apparently agrees with us.

After an emotional outpouring from families who lost their love ones to dangerous doctors, and thousands of emails from Californians, the chairmen of the Senate and Assembly Business and Professions Committees sent a message. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that chairs Curren Price and Richard Gordon have written the medical board to state that they will not reauthorize the board unless it commits to major changes.

This is a big and important step toward strong patient protections in this state. The California Medical Association has for too long stymied real change for patients in the Capitol, and now Gordon and Price have upped the ante by acknowledging the depth of the problem for patients.

Three important areas need to be reformed, as Carmen Balber and I outlined in the San Francisco Chronicle op-ed:

A true overhaul of physician discipline would move complaint investigators into the attorney general’s office to work hand in hand with prosecutors and would create a public-member majority on the medical board.

Real reform should also include mandatory random drug testing of high-risk surgeons and physicians – as is mandated now for bus drivers, college athletes and pilots.

Finally, the state’s 38-year-old limits on the rights of injured patients need to be revisited, too. It’s time for the public to take the power back for itself.

The movement is afoot, and we have taken another step toward greater patient safety. Stay tuned. Momentum is building but we still have a long march ahead.

Posted by Jamie Court, author of The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell and President of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Patients Can Change Patient Safety

1:11 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Jamie Court

There aren’t too many great days for patient safety in state capitols, where the medical establishment tends to rule the roost through the power of its political giving and tentacles. But Monday was a great day for patient safety in Sacramento, when powerful testimony reminded legislators of the human cost of inaction.

The families of victims of overprescribing spent an hour and half in the Senate and Assembly Business and Professions Committees and presented some of the most compelling testimony ever heard there. Their stories and faces were felt around the Capitol Tuesday from huge photographs on the front pages of the Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times to TV news stories echoing legislative sympathy for reform.

Smick FamilyThe medical establishment is now on the defensive. A Medical Board overhaul is in the air. Debate is turning to the government not protecting patients enough.

Will the clarity these courageous families brought to the failure of California’s laws to protect patient safety grow or wither in the coming days? It’s up to us, but I think it will grow.

Carmen Balber and I asked in an oped in Monday morning’s San Francisco Chronicle whether it wasn’t time to pull the plug on the current physician-run medical board. We wrote:

For decades, the medical board has failed to identify dangerous practice patterns, such as over-prescribing, which should trigger investigation. In fact, the board only acts on complaints by consumers, and then rarely. Once an investigation is begun, it takes years to resolve, too long for patients who may be at imminent risk of harm.

When prosecuted, an enforcement case can stagnate in five layers of review. Sadly, little other deterrence exists to medical negligence.

Those listening to the tragic stories in Sacramento this week could not help but understand the human consequences of such inaction. Sons, daughters, brothers, uncles lost. Preventable deaths.

All because the California Medical Association and the state medical board it controls won’t agree to a $9 increase in physician license fees — the cost of two cappuccinos — for workers to find overprescribing doctors in a state database. And due to the grip of this medical establishment over our regulators and the legal system — where families who lose nonwage earners to dirty doctors cannot get legal representation due to a 38 year-old cap on their recovery.

We called for these changes in Monday’s Chronicle.

A true overhaul of physician discipline would move complaint investigators into the attorney general’s office to work hand in hand with prosecutors and would create a public-member majority on the medical board.

Real reform should also include mandatory random drug testing of high-risk surgeons and physicians – as is mandated now for bus drivers, college athletes and pilots. Finally, the state’s 38-year-old limits on the rights of injured patients need to be revisited, too. It’s time for the public to take the power back for itself.

It’s Wednesday morning. Eyes are wide open. And we are a lot closer to patients taking power back than we were before.

Enough is Enough Family Rally
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Posted by Jamie Court, author of The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell and President of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.