American Psychiatric Association, 1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825,
Arlington, VA 22209
For Information Contact: For
Jason Young, 703-907-8582 or c: 202-669-5929 April 20,
[email protected] Release No.
APA Deeply Concerned over Louisiana House Vote
to Give Prescribing Rights to Psychologists
"Patients' Lives at Risk," Warns Goin
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is deeply concerned over
yesterday's vote by the Louisiana House of Representatives to grant
psychologists, who are not physicians, the right to prescribe powerful brain
medications. The House voted 62-31 to pass HB 1426, which would permit
self-professed "medical psychologists" to prescribe psychotropic medications
- drugs that act on a patient's brain - by getting training that is far
short of medical school and residency.
"Proponents of this bill are putting patients' lives at risk," said APA
President Marcia K. Goin, M.D. "While many people are uncertain about which
mental health professionals have medical training, the public should not be
fooled by this bill. Psychologists are not medical doctors and, under the
bill, wouldn't be required to get the training necessary to safely prescribe
potent medications. This bill ignores the real needs of patients and
families struggling with mental illnesses and instead creates a substandard
level of care."
In addition to giving psychologists prescribing rights, the bill would
subject prescribing psychologists to the lone oversight of the state Board
of Examiners of Psychologists, a regulatory board whose members are not
trained in the practice of medicine and cannot judge anyone's medical
competency. The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners has jurisdiction
over judging medical competency in the state - including for physicians, lab
personnel and even acupuncture assistants - but the bill's proponents would
not allow language into the bill to include oversight from the medical
"This is a classic case of the fox guarding the henhouse," said Goin.
"Under this bill, psychologists will be judging their own ability in the
medical field. This system cannot and will not ensure the high quality of
care that patients want or deserve. Patients and families have said they
don't want to be guinea pigs for this unsafe system of care, but so far
their concerns have fallen on deaf ears."
The bill, similar to measures that have failed in the past, has been on a
fast track to the governor this time around. The Senate is expected to hold
a floor vote soon on either the House-passed version or its own companion
measure, SB 754.
"The term 'medical psychologist' is calculated to deceive," concluded Goin.
"There is no such thing. Psychologists can help with a broken heart, too,
but the logic of this bill would make them cardiac surgeons. For the sake
of safe patient care, we urge Louisianans to reject this legislation."