There likely isn’t anyone who would disagree that substance abuse of any kind has a deleterious effect on people. You don’t function with as much clarity and speed when you are impaired by drugs or alcohol. That’s why random drug testing is becoming so common in so many areas of society. Pro and college athletes face such tests. So do students in many high schools and colleges.
One industry in which mandatory random drug testing is not generally in use is the medical profession. It may be something that is practiced by some large scale health care service companies, but it’s not something applied to all practitioners in Missouri or any other state.
That could change soon, though. California voters have a chance to decide this fall whether to approve a state law that would require all doctors who practice there to submit to random drug tests. It’s called Proposition 46 and at least one early poll indicates that the majority of voters currently support the idea.
One of the most vocal backers of the provision is the group Consumer Watchdog. It says the need for the law is clear, pointing to its findings that 511,000 medical professionals across the country were found to have either abused or been addicted to drugs or alcohol last year alone. The group says that amounts to about 6.8 percent of all medical professionals in the nation.
That might seem like a small number, but when you consider that one medical error by one professional has the potential to result in someone suffering a wrongful death, it becomes one too many.
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In addition to potentially making it easier to identify and take action against doctors who put patients at risk because of substance abuse issues, Prop 46 would also raise the ceiling on how much victims could seek in compensation for medical malpractice. The current limit under California law is $250,000. It would be raised to just over $1 million.
Source: KNSD-TV, “Prop 46 Targets Substance Abuse in Medical Profession,” Candice Nguyen and R. Stickney, Aug.8, 2014