If one doctor's prescriptions might be connected to the unnecessary deaths of multiple patients over several years, the state should be asking questions. Times reporters Scott Glover and Lisa Girion analyzed 3,733
Not that the state has been apathetic about prescription drug abuse. One of the 71 doctors awaits trial on charges of second-degree murder in connection with the overdose deaths of three patients, The Times reported; four others already have been convicted of drug offenses related to prescriptions. But most of the doctors whose patients have gone on to overdose have spotless records with the Medical Board of California.
Perhaps they deserve those records. The doctors singled out by The Times' investigation tend to specialize in
But that can be determined only by medical experts with access to confidential files. Legislation proposed by state Sen. Curren D. Price Jr. (D-Los Angeles) would help by requiring coroners to report all prescription drug deaths to the medical board. Those reports should include the prescriptions and the names of the doctors who wrote them, which would give the board an aggregated, usable database to discern whether some doctors' prescriptions are connected to multiple fatalities.
We don't want a return to the days when access to such medications was limited almost solely to terminally ill patients; severe, chronic pain isn't something that patients should have to endure without drugs. Nor should pain treatment specialists be harassed for writing more of these prescriptions than other doctors do. That would make it harder for patients to get medications they honestly need.