Protect Patients’ Safety – Don’t Let Psychologists Prescribe
Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014
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In any discussion about treatment of mental illness, the interests of the patients and their families should come first. In considering Senate Bill 2187 – sometimes called “RxP” – members of the General Assembly should keep that in mind.
SB 2187 would allow psychologists who have no medical training to prescribe powerful medications to patients. Current Illinois law allows only people who have medical training – doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants – to prescribe drugs.
Why does medical training matter? Physical illnesses and mental disorders are often intertwined. Additionally, psychiatric medication, such as drugs for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can interact negatively with medication for chronic illnesses. Finally, many drugs are powerful and can create risky side effects. To understand these complexities, psychiatrists go through four years of medical school and four additional years of residency, on top of their college training in the sciences. They learn to treat the whole patient – not just the brain.
The most recent version of the “RxP” bill would require about 30 semester hours, or 10 college courses, plus 10 weeks of supervision by a psychologist to prescribe medication. The course work could be completed online. Would you allow someone trained online to repair your brakes? Fly a plane? Work as a lifeguard? Treat the family dog?
Psychologists who want to prescribe can follow the route taken by Illinois nurse practitioners, physician assistants and doctors. They can obtain medical training – instead of insisting on a law that would put patients at risk. To become involved, join the Coalition for Patient Safety, http://coalitionforpatientsafety.com.