HomenewsreleaseACLU › Consumer Watchdog Campaign: Prop 46 Author Calls On ACLU To Explain Why It Says Doctors Are Not In Safety Sensitive Positions & Should Not Be Drug Tested

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Consumer Watchdog Campaign: Prop 46 Author Calls On ACLU To Explain Why It Says Doctors Are Not In Safety Sensitive Positions & Should Not Be Drug Tested

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Bob Pack & Jamie Court

Danville, CA --- Responding to recent claims by the No On Proposition 46 campaign that doctors are not in a safety sensitive position, so they should not be drug tested, Proposition 46 proponent Bob Pack called on the leaders of the ACLU to explain their position. Prop 46 requires random drug and alcohol testing of doctors with hospital privileges, as well was other patient safety protections.

In a letter to ACLU California leaders, Pack wrote: “How can the ACLU contend that some doctors are not in ‘safety sensitive’ positions? Explain to me and the voters of our state when and in what circumstances a doctor is not in a ‘safety sensitive’ position. Likewise, please spell out for me and the voters in what circumstances and why a doctor who practices while drunk or on drugs should not be potentially at risk of losing their medical license.

“Whether in an operating room or at a hospital bedside or in an exam room, every physician who has privileges to admit patients to a hospital ultimately holds a life in their hands,” wrote Pack, who authored Prop 46 after losing his young children. “ As such, each and every physician in this state and nation should perform their tasks – whether diagnostic, therapeutic or surgical – in a sound mind and in complete sobriety.”

The letter responded to comments by ACLU representative Natasha Minsker in a Sacramento Bee article.

Read the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltraclusafety8-25-2014.pdf

Read the Sacramento Bee article here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/21/6646174/doctor-drug-testing-latest-front.html

“I understand the ACLU has never been a fan of drug or alcohol testing in any form, even when it comes to safety sensitive positions such as airline pilots, and has consistently opposed the use of DUI checkpoints as a form of deterring drunk driving, “ Pack wrote. “Such stands put the ACLU at odds both with public opinion and, frankly from my perspective, with common sense. I say this as a father who lost my own two children, Troy and Alana, to a motorist intoxicated by alcohol and prescription drugs she had acquired by ‘doctor shopping’ several Kaiser physicians.  

“My own experience prompted me to help develop the states CURES prescription drug database and successfully champion its full funding by the Legislature in 2013 as well as its mandatory use, one of the planks of Prop 46, the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act.  If only one of those DUI checkpoints the ACLU abhors had stood like a sentry between that intoxicated motorist and my children on the evening that they were killed. The ACLU’s stand on that issue, and the testing of pilots and doctors, discredits the lives of victims such as my children.”

Pack enumerated cases of victims of substance- abusing doctor as well as statistics about the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse among physicians.

“These stories and statistics highlight an inconvenient truth in our health care system: Doctors can be drunks; they can be troubled by drug abuse. And right now it’s nearly impossible to detect such behavior, let alone deter it,” Pack wrote.

“As a society, we need to provide better protections to ensure patients don’t become victims of MDs under the influence,” Pack explained.  “Earlier this year, Daniel R. Levinson, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, called for testing of doctors for substance abuse in this opinion piece published by the New York Times. His clarion call followed a similar endorsement published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. by two patient safety researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine. I have personally discussed the issue with Dr. Stephen Loyd, head of his hospital in Tennessee and one of the White House drug control office’s 2014 “Advocates for Action,” who recovered from his own fight with prescription drug addiction to become one of the nation’s leading advocates for random substance abuse testing of physicians."

The letter noted that the USA Today recently reported on a government study that found that more than 100,000 medical professionals were currently battling drug addiction or abuse. The same government study reported that more than 400,000 medical professionals were currently abusing or addicted to alcohol. The California Medical Board has reported estimates that nearly 1 in 5 doctors – 18% -- will suffer substance abuse sometime during their lifetimes, and that up to 2% of doctors are likely to be abusing drugs or alcohol at any one time.

Learn more about Proposition 46 and the campaign for patient safety at: www.yeson46.org

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Paid for by Consumer Watchdog Campaign – Yes on 46, a coalition of attorneys, consumer advocates, and patients.  2701 Ocean Park Blvd., Ste. 112, Santa Monica, CA  90405.  Major Funding by Aitken, Aitken & Cohn, LLP.