Sun-Times, Tribune Editorials Say “No” to Prescribing Psychologists
Wednesday, Apr 2, 2014
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In any discussion of the treatment of mental illness, patients and their families should come first. But according to recent editorials in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, Senate Bill 2187 fails that test.
SB 2187 – sometimes called “RxP” – would allow psychologists with no medical training to prescribe medications to patients. Current Illinois law allows only people with medical training – doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants – to prescribe.
“It would create too many medical risks without doing enough to make drug treatment for mental health more widely available,” the Sun-Times wrote on Feb. 20, 2014. “We need to provide much better mental health care for our citizenry. But expanding prescription-writing rights is not a safe way to do it.”
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.
“We didn’t support this effort in the spring and we still don’t because this bill does not require sufficiently stringent training and oversight,” wrote the Chicago Tribune in its March 22, 2014 editorial.
To become involved, join the Coalition for Patient Safety, http://coalitionforpatientsafety.com.