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According to a recent news report from Reuters, a consumer advocate group is behind a new push to raise a statewide cap on medical malpractice awards that has been in place for nearly four decades.

Consumer Watchdog have gathered more than 800,000 signatures – far more than the 505,000 needed – to place the initiative on the November ballot. If voters approve the initiative, the maximum amount of money that a victim of medical malpractice could be awarded for pain and suffering would rise from the current cap of $250,000 to $1.1 million. Opponents, including the California Medical Association, argue that the ballot measure will increase costs for health consumers, while supporters point out that the amount of the original cap has never been adjusted for inflation.

The initiative, called the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, was named after a 10-year-old boy and his 7-year-old sister who were both fatally struck by a driver intoxicated by prescription medication.

In addition to raising the cap for malpractice awards, the initiative would also require physicians to check a statewide database before prescribing certain drugs to patients in order to discourage prescription drug abuse, and would mandate drug and alcohol testing of doctors. Hospitals would be required to test all doctors involved in the care of a patient who dies or is injured as the result of a medical error, as well as to conduct random testing as per the federal guidelines for airline pilots.

According to the California Medical Board, nearly 1 out of 5 doctors suffer from substance abuse at some point in their careers. Doctors who test positive for drugs or alcohol would be suspended until an investigation could be completed.

Have you or a family member been a victim of medical malpractice? Contact the law firm of Hodes Milman Liebeck today at 866-730-1976 or online at www.hmlm.com to learn more about your legal options.