State Senator Curren D. Price, Jr. (D-Culver City) introduced SB 62 Tuesday that would ensure state licensing boards have information as soon as possible to determine the role that doctors and pharmacists may have had in patient prescription drug deaths.
“Coroners reports are a treasure trove of data that can inform us about where people are getting drugs, how much they have in their system when they die of an overdose and whether they were under the care of a doctor who may have been prescribing too much,” Price said in an official release. “This bill connects the dots and creates a very necessary pathway for prescription drug overdose deaths to be reported directly to the Boards that can take necessary action against their licensees who may have been directly involved. “
Price added, “If Boards are receiving reports from coroners throughout the state, they will be better armed with the necessary tools to make a determination whether there may be a link to their licensees in overprescribing circumstances and take action.”
Current law only requires coroner’s reports to be transmitted to the Medical Board of California in the event that gross negligence by a physician is determined as the cause of death.
In a recent Los Angeles Times series coroners reports from four counties found that in nearly half of the cases where prescription drug overdose was listed as the cause of death, there was a direct connection to a prescribing physician. The series also found that more than 80 of the doctors whose names were listed on prescription bottles found at the home of, or on the body of, a person who died had been the prescribing physician for three or more dead patients – and in the case of one doctor, as many as 16 dead patients.
“Patients and the public cannot be completely protected if we are not improving every opportunity for better reporting and arming the licensing boards with the necessary information to take a better look at their licensees,” said Price.