SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Family members whose loved ones died as a result of prescription drug overdoses will be among those calling for change Monday as lawmakers consider whether to reauthorize the state medical board.
The Medical Board of California, which licenses and oversees physicians, came under fire following a Los Angeles Times investigation published last year. The newspaper found that drugs prescribed by physicians caused or contributed to nearly half the accidental deaths involving prescription drugs in four Southern California counties.
The newspaper also reported that during the six-year period it reviewed, at least 30 Southern California patients died while their doctors were under investigation. The board sanctioned all but one of those 12 doctors. In most cases, doctors are allowed to continue writing prescriptions after they are sanctioned.
Board officials have asked those whose relatives died of overdoses to contact them if they believe physician misconduct was a factor in the deaths. Officials also promised to review records of the specific overdose deaths detailed in the newspaper's investigation.
Others, including Sen. Curren Price, D-Los Angeles, have called for the medical board to receive coroners' reports for all deaths that are related to prescription drug use.
Dr. Sharon Levine, the board's president, is scheduled to testify at a joint legislative committee hearing on Monday.
Also set to appear before the committee is April Rovero, whose son died in 2009 after mixing prescription drugs with alcohol. Rovero, who lives in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area city of San Ramon, founded the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse after her son's death.