San Diego medical malpractice lawyers, we are concerned by a new report suggesting that California is not doing
enough to prevent prescription deaths caused by reckless doctors. The
Los Angeles Times highlights that some California doctors are prescribing powerful painkillers
to patients who had no medical need for them, often with fatal consequences.
The article uses Dr. Carlos Estiandan as an example of the problem. By
the time his prescribing license was finally revoked after a four-year
investigation, eight of his patients had died of overdoses or related
causes. In total, at least 30 patients in Southern California have died
of drug overdoses or related causes while their doctors were under investigation,
according to the newspaper.
While a number of factors likely contribute to the spike in drug-related
LA Times investigation highlights that lax oversight by the state’s medical
board may play a significant role.
Below are several other startling findings of the report:
- Board investigations infrequently result in tough sanctions. In 80% of
the 190 cases of improper prescribing filed by the board since 2005, the
offending physician was given a reprimand or placed on probation. In most
of those cases, the doctor was allowed to continue writing prescriptions
with few or no restrictions.
- The board rarely seeks to suspend the prescribing privileges of doctors
under investigation. The agency can petition a judge for an interim suspension
order, but has only done so 12 times in the last five years.
- Eight doctors disciplined for excessive prescribing later had patients
die of overdoses or related causes. Prescriptions those doctors wrote
caused or contributed to 19 deaths.