Will Drug Tests Help Reduce Medical Malpractice?
Drug tests are no new concept, as they have been around for quite some time. However, as The New York Times reports, doctors in California are now facing the proposition of having to undergo routine random drug tests-a concept seemingly unheard of in the profession.
The proposition to require doctors to undergo random drug and alcohol tests is scheduled to appear on the ballot this November and would make California the first state to require doctors to do so.
This proposal was inserted as a sweetener in a broad push by trial lawyers to raise the state’s financial cap on medical malpractice awards for the first time since 1975. We also recently blogged on how Florida struck down its arbitrary wrongful death cap in medical malpractice cases.
Substance abuse is a well-known issue in the medical profession, and this proposition, known as Proposition 46, is drawing national attention to the debate. Proponents of the proposition feel that it will help to ease incidents of medical malpractice that can arise from physician mistakes when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The results of the random drug tests would be reported to the California Medical Board and hospitals would be required to report the names of doctors suspected of abusing drugs or alcohol.
Arthur L. Caplan, a medical ethicist at New York University, stated, “It’s crucial: I can’t believe we haven’t done this already…We can argue about how often that is, and what to do if you are positive. But the idea that we wouldn’t be screening our surgeon, our anesthesiologist or our oncologist when we are going to screen our bus drivers and our airline pilots strikes me as ethically indefensible.”
As Proposition 46 makes its way to the ballot in November, it will be important to gauge national attention to the outcome and look at the results it has on reducing medical malpractice.
Shapiro Law Group – Medical Malpractice Attorneys Serving the Tampa Bay Area