Prop 46 Targets Substance Abuse in Medical Profession

New report shows 511,000 medical professionals in the country abused or were dependent on drugs or alcohol in the past year.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 7's Candice Nguyen reports on the controversial ballot measure voters will consider in November 2014. (Published Friday, Aug 8, 2014)

    Although we're still months away from the November election, there is controversy over one ballot measure – Proposition 46 or the Patient Safety Act.

    Prop 46 would increase the cap on damages in malpractice lawsuits and allow for drug testing of doctors.

    “My colleagues all knew something was wrong,” said Dr. Stephen Loyd. “At my worst I was taking 100 pills a day every day and I was working at my job.”

    Loyd was practicing medicine in Tennessee and by 2004 his dependence on pain pills to relieve stress had grown to a daily problem.

    “I had the possibility of hurting a lot of people,” Loyd said.

    Loyd knows he put patients at risk, which is why he supports Prop 46.

    Dr. Stephen Loyd knows he put patients at risk, which is why he supports Prop 46.
    Photo credit: NBC 7

    Among other things, it would increase the state's cap on damages in malpractice lawsuits, require drug and alcohol testing of doctors, and report positives tests.

    Consumer Watchdog released a report Thursday showing that in the past year, 511,000 medical professionals in the country abused or were dependent on drugs or alcohol. That's about 6.8 percent of the total number.

    NBC 7 found at least six doctors in the county with drug and alcohol issues.

    Former La Jolla sleep medicine expert Bradley Schnierow admitted to smoking meth with his girlfriend and is charged with helping her get dangerous, prescription narcotics.

    He pleaded not guilty to the charges, but surrendered his license.

    Former La Jolla sleep medicine expert Bradley Schnierow surrendered his license.
    Photo credit: NBC 7

    Supporters say if approved, Prop 46 will save lives while opponents argue it will increase your healthcare costs and drive doctors away.

    Doctor and Speaker of the California Medical Association House of Delegates, Ted Mazer, said the measure is deceptive.

    If passed, healthcare costs will increase and access to care will decrease he said.

    “What we're opposed to is how the proposition is written,” Mazer said.

    “Behind this proposition are attorneys looking to increase the awards given to non-economic damages in malpractice lawsuits that also means they increase their take home,” he said.

    While Mazer agrees there's a problem, he says this proposition isn't the answer.

    As for Dr. Loyd, he has been a recovering drug addict for 10 years.