Medical Psychologists on path to getting prescribing privileges, AMA/APA oppose


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Apr 24, 2004
AMA, partners fight loosening of prescribing rules

April 22, 2004
The AMA and several of its state and specialty society partners are fighting proposed legislation in Louisiana that would allow so-called "medical psychologists" to prescribe potent brain medications. Safe and effective prescribing of such drugs can only be ensured by limiting prescriptive authority to those who have medical education and supervised residency training.

The Louisiana Senate passed such a bill (HB 1426/SB 754) by five votes on April 21. The bill will be sent to Gov. Kathleen Blanco for her consideration. The AMA, the American Psychiatric Association, the Louisiana Psychiatric Medical Association and the Louisiana State Medical Society fiercely oppose the measure. The AMA encourages all Louisiana physicians to contact the governor to veto it. Call Gov. Blanco's constituent services line toll-free at 800-317-5918 to make your voice heard.

Learn more about the battle in Louisiana.

Please call 800-317-5918 to make your opinion on HB1426/SB754 known. This bill would allow "medical psychologists" to prescribe any psychotropic meds with only telephonic approval. This includes ability to get DEA # and prescribing benzos/stimulants to adults and children. The training is apparently going to a pass/fail course every 3rd weekend for 2 years to learn about meds. I am attached a relevant article below.


Doctors criticize bill allowing psychologists to write prescriptions
11:14 AM CDT on Thursday, April 22, 2004

Some Louisiana doctors are saying new legislation could be dangerous to patients because it would allow psychologists without medical degrees to write prescriptions for drugs.

Currently only psychiatrists with medical degrees can issue prescriptions, but with the bill, Louisiana will become only the second state to allow psychologists to prescribe mental health drugs.

Louisiana is only the second state to pass such legislation
The bill's co-author, Senate President Don Hines, said the bill would help people in rural areas who might have a long wait to see a psychiatrist. Hines said the psychologist?s scope of medications would be limited, only allowing them to prescribe medicines related to mental and emotional illness.

Hines said so far 50 psychologists in Louisiana have already taken and passed the postgraduate course, which has been around for a few years.

Dr. Patrick O?Neill, president of the Louisiana Psychiatric Medical Association, said the bill is very dangerous because there ?is no medical oversight whatsoever.?

O?Neill strongly opposes the legislation, saying psychologists don?t have the medical training to dole out prescriptions, even for mental health purposes, because that medication could interact with other medicines.

?Some of these medicines can be quite dangerous,? said O?Neill. ?You are playing with peoples brain chemistry. A lot of them have issues with drug interactions with other medications and also you can't treat a patient in a vacuum. When you treat a patient you're treating the whole patient not just the psychiatric symptoms.?

According to O?Neill, other than Oxycontin and morphine, the psychologists would be able to prescribe nearly all mental health drugs.

?They're able to prescribe any of the anti-depressants,? he said. ?There have been concerns raised on the anti-depressants by the FDA visa-vie suicide, especially in children.?

Hines said psychologists who want to prescribe medication would first have to pass a stringent postgraduate course.

Eyewitness News obtained a brochure of the postgraduate course outlining what psychologists must complete.

According to the curriculum, class meets every third weekend with 384 hours of classroom instruction is needed over two years. In the section titled ?Frequently Asked Questions,? it says students will have to spend two to three hours a week studying. The pamphlet also says the course is on a ?pass-no pass system,? meaning an average score of 70 percent is required to pass. If a student does not pass a class, the program will develop a plan to do remedial work and retake an exam

O?Neill said that program does not compare with medical school and a residency

?They don't have the medical background, they don't have any exposure to patients in the context of medical illness; they're behavioral scientists,? he said.

The bill now heads to Governor Blanco, and according to her staff, she hasn't decided if she would sign the legislation.

The Louisiana Psychological Association said they could not comment on the new bill.

New Mexico voted a similar bill into law two years ago, but because the state has not come up with an agreeable postgraduate curriculum, psychologists there are still not writing prescriptions.


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Psychologist have obtained nearly total autonomy to write scripts in Louisiana. Many people think this is a joke, but it is true. so what next. Optometrist are doing more and more procedures, NP's and PA's are doing more and more. Family Practice Physicians and Ophthomologist you are big targets as are anesthesiologist. Radiology your work is already starting to be outsourced to other countries for viewing and reading. I am curious how many people with reply and tell me I am paranoid as medicine continues to change around us with very little input from physicians and enormous input from politicians.


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The biggest problem from this is what it will do to the overall mental health profession. In order to maximize income. The psychologist will spend much more time doing medication visits and less time with therapy. Even now it is difficult to find good therapy practioners -- This will make it even more difficult.



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This shows how misguided state legislatures can be.

Louisiana's politicians cited the New Mexico example, which had given psychologists independent script rights for a couple of years.

In BOTH states, the given reason for changing scope was that so rural patients could get more healthcare.

In New Mexico, we know that a grand total of ZERO psychologists who have script rights have begun to serve rural/underserved areas.
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