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Doctors to be held accountable for overdoses

As increased concern is mounting about the number of fatalities associated with prescription drug abuse, lawmakers in California are taking legal moves to protect residents through increased penalties for physicians who prescribe drugs unnecessarily. Instead of focusing on the person who is possessing the medications in these drug crime cases, officials say the new move will prevent doctors from prescribing unconscionable amounts of narcotics and other commonly abused drugs.

So far, three bills are under consideration by the state legislators, who hope to make moves on the items soon. The renewed focus on the physicians who are breaking the law serves to legitimize the addiction and other negative experiences that come along with prescription drug abuse. The bills were proposed after the conclusion of a long-term investigation that determined doctors were linked to the majority of medication-related overdose deaths for a five-year period in Southern California. In fact, medical records were able to identify more than 70 physicians who had at least three patients die within that period thanks to prescribed medication overdoses.

One man in Huntington Beach had a whopping 17 patients die from medication overdoses during the five-year span, even though he told investigators he had implemented a top-notch monitoring program. Parents and relatives of prescription drug abuse victims have railed against poor controls that allow physicians to pander to addicts' desires. Even the Medical Board of California has been called on to take action against the problem, which is clearly having serious effects on a large population of drug users throughout the community.

In many cases, drug addicts and users do not deserve hard time for their crimes; they are afflicted with a terrible condition that needs rehabilitation and treatment. Measures holding physicians accountable would put the blame in the correct place, allowing defendants to get the help they need instead of spending time in a cell.

Source: articles.latimes.com, "Bills would give state new powers to fight prescription drug abuse" Scott Glover and Lisa Girion, Sep. 15, 2013

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