Letting psychologists prescribe would be a big mistake

May 16, 2013 

The Illinois legislature is on the verge of putting thousands of Illinoisans with mental and emotional conditions at serious risk if it passes legislation allowing non-medically trained psychologists to prescribe powerful and potentially dangerous psychotropic drugs.

The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 2187, has passed the Senate and could be voted on soon in the House. Forty-eight other states prohibit psychologists from prescribing these drugs, which are among the most powerful in medicine.

They're prescribed to treat mental and emotional conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and clinical depression.

Allowing non-medically trained psychologists to prescribe such powerful drugs is like allowing someone who's never piloted an airplane to fly a 747.

Patient care requires collaboration between many members of the health care team and psychologists play an important role. However, the simple truth is they do not have the biomedical education similar to that of health professionals currently authorized to prescribe, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

A proposed pharmacology "Cliffs Notes" type of course is far inferior to the in-depth medical education physicians undertake.

Doctors urge the Illinois House to vote "no" on SB 2187.

Eldon A. Trame, MD

President, Illinois State Medical Society

Belleville

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