If you have watched your television recently, you may have seen an advertisement for something called Proposition 46. Proposition 46 is one of the ballot initiatives in our upcoming election on November 4. This proposition would increase the cap for medical malpractice pain and suffering awards from $250,000 to $1.1 million dollars. The $250,000 cap comes from 1975, and this has not ever been adjusted for inflation. It is time for the cap on medical malpractice suits to reflect the costs of being injured in the 21 st century.
Additionally, Prop 46 require doctors to undergo drug and alcohol testing. If a doctor tests positive, they will be reported to the state Medical Board and be suspended while the test is being investigated. When a doctor is under the influence of an impairing substance on the job, they will face disciplinary action. To prevent abuse of narcotic prescription drugs, Prop 46 will require that doctors and other healthcare professionals check a drug history database before prescribing drugs with narcotic affects. These aspects of Prop 46 will reduce the trend of so-called "doctor shopping," prescription drug abuse and medical negligence.
Opponents of Prop 46—which include major healthcare companies and organizations protecting doctors—have raised over $55 million to defeat the initiative. They have used this many to flood TV channels with advertisements portraying advocates of Prop 46 as greedy trial lawyers looking to make a buck. This simply isn't true—this proposition is about protecting the rights of all Californians. The opponents are major corporations wanting to preserve their bottom line, which isn't in the best interests of patients.
Contrary to popular belief, Prop 46 will not increase medical costs. Medical malpractice payments are only a sliver of extremely tiny fraction of healthcare costs, so this will not have a significant effect on your bills. Additionally, the patient protections may potentially lead to taxpayers saving money through decreased incidents of medical negligence and prescription drug abuse.
As attorneys handling medical malpractice work, we have seen time and time again how the limits on awards for pain and suffering can impede a person's ability to truly recover. Doctors should be held accountable for negligent activity, and patients throughout California deserve mechanisms that will reduce medical negligence.
This Tuesday, when you head to your polling place, please keep one thing in mind: VOTE YES ON PROP 46. Let's protect the interests of Californians, not major medical companies.