Update to the Troy and Alana Pack Story
From the Mercury News with authori By Tracy Seipel | email@example.com
SACRAMENTO — Almost 13 years after a driver hooked on prescription painkillers drove into Bob Pack’s two young children on a sidewalk, killing them both, the Danville father on Tuesday finally got the call he has been waiting so long to receive……. – Web address for full story at: http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/27/danville-father-overjoyed-by-life-saving-new-law/
July 11, 2013 – Commentary in the Sacramento Bee
This article is on this site for historical purposes.
Viewpoints: Cap on medical negligence claims is outdated and unfair to victims
By Robert Pack
Special to The Bee
Published: Thursday, Jul. 11, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 11A
When my 7-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son died suddenly on a roadside nine years ago, I was forced to confront not only the unimaginable grief of losing my young children forever, but also the reality that doctor discipline and accountability in California don’t exist.
Alana and Troy were walking on a sidewalk in Danville with my wife, Carmen, when a drugged driver fell unconscious at the wheel and swerved off the road, killing my two children and injuring Carmen. We also ended up losing our unborn twins as well.
The driver, Jimena Barreto, turned out to be a doctor-shopping drug addict who was convicted of second-degree murder and imprisoned for 30 years to life. The Kaiser doctors who prescribed her thousands of pills, however, were never held accountable for their negligence.
Barreto had no physical symptoms, but managed to stockpile narcotics without any oversight.
In the wake of my family’s tragedy, I found that Kaiser’s doctors had no idea they were all over-prescribing to the same doctor shopper. There was no computer system tracking prescriptions patients received. Since my background is in technology, I developed the electronic CURES database, a searchable system that tracks prescriptions dispensed in California.
Today, the tool is at the disposal of every doctor, law enforcement official and regulator in the state. Unfortunately, most of them don’t use it.
This is the sad story of the last 3 1/2 decades in California: physicians largely unwilling to police themselves, regulators turning a blind eye to available information about dangerous doctors, and a lack of legal deterrence to medical negligence.
The core of the failed doctor disciplinary system that killed my four children dates back to 1975. It was a punch in my gut when I learned that a California law capped the value of my children’s lives at $250,000.
Jerry Brown signed the law in his first term as governor, 37 years ago, and the amount has never been adjusted for inflation.
At the time, doctors promised that a strong new regulatory system would make up for the lost deterrence of the legal system, but patient safety scandals continue to rock California.
Kaiser still doesn’t utilize the CURES database. The physicians responsible for the death of my children were never disciplined by the California Medical Board. In fact, the current president of the medical board was the medical director at Kaiser who refused to make changes at the HMO following my family’s tragedy.
In 1975, legislators made $22,000 per year. Back then, a gallon of gasoline cost 57 cents. The value of everything has gone up since 1975, but not the $250,000 cap on the value of a child’s life.
The law is one size fits all, no matter how clear the negligence or how catastrophic the injury or loss. It sets a fixed cap on the value of a child’s life, and does the same to others whose quality of life is destroyed when their limbs, or vision, or ability to have a child are taken away by negligent doctors.
Of course, Troy and Alana were priceless. No amount of money can replace them. But when a child’s life is valued so little, patients face continued risks because the medical establishment has no incentive to change.
It’s time to adjust this 37-year-old cap so it is in line with the cost of living. Recently Barry Keene, the author of the law, came forward to say it should be indexed for inflation, and that was always the Legislature’s intent.
There is no danger malpractice insurance rates will rise. Since 1988, California’s malpractice insurance rates have been tightly regulated.
Unfortunately, the Legislature has not acted, which is why I am working with Consumer Watchdog on a ballot initiative, “The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act,” for the 2014 ballot. If California lawmakers are unwilling to prevent another family from going through the same tragedy Carmen and I faced, the voters will have their chance.
Robert Pack is the founder of the Troy and Alana Pack Foundation and a leader of www.38istoolate.org.
© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
Parents target drugs after kids’ deaths
– Leslie Fulbright
Friday, January 14, 2005
A Danville couple whose children were killed by an allegedly intoxicated driver said Thursday they were working with Kaiser Permanente and state Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, to develop legislation that would place tougher controls on prescription drugs.
Bob and Carmen Pack, who recently learned that the Walnut Creek nanny accused of running down their two children might have been abusing the prescription painkiller Vicodin, said at a news conference outside Kaiser’s corporate offices they were pushing for a statewide, real-time database that would allow doctors and pharmacists to access medical records.
Their children Troy, 10, and Alana, 7, died in October 2003 after allegedly being hit by Jimena Barreto, 46.
According to transcripts from grand jury testimony, Barreto told police she had taken Vicodin and muscle relaxants the day of the accident. A Kaiser doctor who treated her days before the accident testified that she had been seen by several doctors and given six different Vicodin prescriptions.
May 30, 2006 – WALNUT CREEK / Bereaved parents welcome new baby / Daughter born to couple whose kids were killed in 2003
October 15, 2005 – DANVILLE / Couple whose kids were killed expecting again
October 14, 2005 – Couple whose kids were killed by a drunken driver are expecting
June 25, 2005 – CONTRA COSTA COUNTY / Maximum sentence for nanny in hit-run / Woman was drunk when she killed 2 kids while driving
June 24, 2005 – DUI nanny gets the max for running down kids
May 22, 2005 – DANVILLE / Couple who lost 2 children in crash now lose fetuses
May 20, 2005 – DANVILLE / Couple who lost children in crash receive sad news / Fetuses woman is carrying have low chance of surviving
May 15 – MARTINEZ / Nanny pleads not guilty / 2 kids killed in hit-run; DUI charge challenged
May 8, 2005 – DANVILLE / Nanny in hit-run case indicted for murder / 2 kids walking with mom were killed in Danville crash
May 5, 2005 – Nanny convicted of murder / Jury finds she was drunk, high when her car hit children
April 26, 2005 – MARTINEZ / Tape of nanny’s questioning after crash played for jurors
April 20, 2005 – MARTINEZ / Nanny didn’t seem to be drunk or high, ex-employer says / But mother called bar to find suspect in 2 children’s deaths
April 19, 2005 – MARTINEZ / Tears as trial opens in killing of 2 kids / Mom identifies defendant: ‘That woman over there’
April 18, 2005 – Nanny’s jury to weigh vehicular murder / More severe than manslaughter
April 3, 2005 – DANVILLE / Reliving the tragedy, relying on future
February 4, 2005 – DANVILLE / Parents whose kids died ready to start new family
January 15, 2005 – OAKLAND / Parents target drugs after kids’ deaths
Oct. 20, 2004 – DANVILLE / Peruvian egg donor plans November visit
Oct. 19, 2004 – DANVILLE / Visa to be approved for egg donor