Prop 46: California Doctors Could Face Random Drug Testing

Opponents say November ballot measure would increase health care costs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Supporters are trying to spread the word about Prop 46, which would include random drug tests for doctors. Michelle Roberts reports.

    Is your doctor on drugs? Supporters of California Proposition 46 say their measure would help patients find out.

    If the ballot measure passes in November, doctors would be subject to random drug testing.

    Supporters believe it will save lives. Opponents say it’s more complicated than that, and those complications could leave patients paying more and waiting longer for health care.

    Dr. Stephen Loyd, an expert in internal medicine, admits that, for years, he couldn't take care of himself, let alone his patients. At one point, Loyd said, he started every day with a cocktail of oxy, Vicodin and Zanax, sometimes up to 100 pills a day, and then do his rounds completely high.

    “I thought I was going to die, and I didn’t think anyone would catch me,” Loyd said. “Here’s the scariest thing about it: I thought I was a better doctor. I thought I was sharper. I thought I didn’t need sleep.”

    Loyd said he’s been clean for a decade, but, to this day, he doesn’t know if any patients were hurt. Now Dr. Loyd is fighting for to get Prop 46 passed.

    The measure would, among other things, randomly test California doctors for drugs and alcohol.
    Dr. Tonya Spiritos is an OB/GYN doctor who opposes the measure.

    “It’s not going to pick up those few physicians that may have abused a drug at the time that harm was done,” Spiritos said. “All that it will do is increase cost and decrease access.”

    Dr. Spiritos said the proposition, which would also raise the cap on damages in malpractice cases, will drive doctors to practice in other states.

    “If you raise the cap from $250,000 to $1.2 million, you will bankrupt entire system,” Spiritos said.
    Prop 46 also aims to end the practice of so-called doctor shopping, where patients go from doctor to doctor, gathering painkiller prescriptions.

    If the measure passes, doctors would have to check a patient drug database before prescribing for a new patient. But, opponents say, the database isn’t ready for statewide use and could create treatment delays.