Protect Patient Safety – Don’t Let Psychologists Prescribe
Thursday, Apr 17, 2014
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In any discussion about treating mental illness, patients and their families must come first. But Senate Bill 2187 – sometimes called “RxP” – puts the interests of a small group of professionals ahead of protecting patients.
SB 2187 would allow psychologists who have no medical training to prescribe medications. 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 have 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.
“When you talk about prescribing medicine, the Number One point that you want to drive home is safety,” says Dr. Napatia Tronshaw, an Orland Park psychiatrist and medical doctor. “In order to safely approach prescribing medication, there is a certain knowledge base that you should have.”
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.