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Drugged Drivers: Epidemic Fueled by Doctors who Prescribe Pain Killers Without Due Diligence

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. A recent study showed that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.  The question is how do these people get access to regulated prescription drugs?  Only 5% get them from a drug dealer or the internet.  Many people are prescribed them by their doctors. 

Troy, 10, and Alana Pack, 7, died in October 2003. They were struck by a driver high on alcohol and drugs just a few blocks from their home. They were narcotics prescribed by six different doctors at the same Walnut Creek hospital.  After ten years of grieving their father is pushing for the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act which would require drug testing for doctors and raise the state's $250,000 cap on damages in medical malpractice cases. It would also require doctors to consult a government database before prescribing painkillers to new patients.


"If a doctor harms someone, they need to be held accountable so people can understand what happened. And then secondly, they need to change whatever went wrong. Right now, if you don't go to court and hold them accountable, they feel there's no need to change," Pack said.

Drugged drivers are also a problem in Virginia (VA).  A study showed that more than 16 percent of randomly tested U.S. drivers had detectable levels of stimulants, sedatives, antidepressants, marijuana or narcotic painkillers in their systems, according to a report released by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.  Perhaps if this patient safety act passes in California other states will mandate doctors to consult a database before prescribing painkillers so that we can all be safer on the road.

CT

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