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Register Star Editorial, Kennedy: Don’t Let Psychologists Prescribe

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Yesterday, the Rockford Register Star became the third Illinois newspaper – joining the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times – to publish an editorial urging legislators to reject Senate Bill 2187. The bill, sometimes called “RxP,” would allow psychologists to prescribe in spite of having no medical training.

“When something as fragile as the human mind is at stake, the utmost care must be taken to ensure the highest quality of those services,” the Register Star editorial stated. “We encourage representatives to vote no.”

Also yesterday, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), a noted advocate for the rights of mental health patients, wrote to members of the General Assembly urging them to reject SB 2187.

“It is out of deep concern for patients and their families that I urge you to oppose Senate Bill 2187,” Kennedy wrote. “This legislation would undermine mental health care in Illinois and put patients at risk.”

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.

Psychologists should stop insisting on a law that would put patients at risk. To become involved, join the Coalition for Patient Safety, http://coalitionforpatientsafety.com.

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