Proposition 46 relates to malpractice, prescription drug monitoring, and alcohol and drug testing for doctors. Currently, health care providers purchase malpractice insurance to pay the cost of malpractice claims. In some cases, the organization a provider works for will pay for the cost of malpractice claims. These organizations generally include hospitals and physician groups.
Proposition 46 would raise the cap on medical malpractice damages beginning January 1, 2015. The current cap is $250,000 but Prop. 46 would adjust it to reflect inflation increases that have occured since the cap was created.
The measure would also require physicians and pharmacists to check the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) database prior to prescribing specific drugs to a patient for the first time. The drugs are categorized as addictive and include such substances as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Adderall. If the CURES system finds that a paitent has an existing prescription for one of these drugs, the provider must determine if there is an approiate need for an additional one.
Proposition 46 would require hospitals to conduct alcohol and drug testing of physicians. When a doctor is made responsible for a patient's treatment prior to an adverse event, they would have to undergo a test. Adverse events include injuries associated with medication errors or errors made during surgery or events that end with the death or serious injury of a patient. Physicians would also have to undergo testing if they become the subject of a report of drug or alcohol use while treating patients. The hospital would be required to bill the physician for the cost of the test.
When tests come up positive or if the physician refuses to take the test, the hospital would be required to make a report to the medical board. The board would be required to take disciplinary action including suspending of his or her license.
The measure is expected to increase health care spending in the state by increasing medical malpractice costs and changing the amount and types of health care services provided. The number of malpractice claims could increase or decrease if the measure passes. The cap could raise the amount that could to go to attorneys representing injured parties, which could increase the number claims bringing costs up. State and local governments could see spending on health care costs associated with providers passing along additional costs to clients, such as local governments. Raising the cap on damages might encourage health care providers to alter how they practice medicine in order to avoid malpractice claims. This could increase health care costs.