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posted: 5/20/2013 9:03 AM

Psychologists shouldn't write prescriptions

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I am a board certified psychiatrist in the practice of psychopharmacology. I strongly urge a "no" vote on SB 2187 to grant prescribing privileges to Illinois psychologists. Here are three primary reasons:

1) In medicine, the brain and the mind cannot be separated from the rest of the body. A prescribing practitioner must have comprehensive understanding of the human body and medications. Psychiatrists attend medical school and so we know, live, and breathe understanding of the entire human body and all medications. Psychologists who take a special course in psychiatric drugs cannot hope to learn enough to prescribe them competently. For example: Recently a patient with a cardiac history called. He complained of chest pain since starting his antidepressant. Was it due to his heart condition, the new medication, or some other cause? I asked a few questions, had him perform simple behaviors during our telephone conversation, and then assured him his pain was not cardiac and was caused by the new medication. I instructed him how to stop it. Every day I make such judgments and decisions.

2) It is argued that many in rural areas do not have a prescriber for psychotropic medications. However, health care professionals of all disciplines locate in the same pattern of distribution. Prescribing psychologists would be no more likely to locate in rural areas than psychiatrists.

3) Regarding coverage of underserved areas, telepsychiatry is growing by leaps and bounds, and Illinois has national experts in this field. Psychiatrists can provide services to patients throughout the state with very simple video hookups, services which include the benefit of our comprehensive training in medicine and medication.

If psychologists are granted privileges to prescribe psychotropic medications, the quality of care for Illinois residents will diminish and the cost of care will increase.

David L. McNeil, M.D.


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