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Apr-07-2010 18:07printcomments

Letter Decries Bill Granting Prescribing Privileges to Oregon Psychologists

Pending changes could allow those who are not doctors to prescribe medicine.

Writing a prescription

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - Governor Ted Kulongoski, according to our trusted sources, is considering whether to veto or approve Senate Bill 1046 which, if approved, would grant prescribing privileges to Oregon Psychologists who would be "specially trained".

What makes this different from every other state where certain psychologists have likewise been approved by their state government to prescribe, is that in Oregon there would be NO physician oversight (supervision).

We psychiatrists have been opposed to any state approving non-medical personnel to prescribe ANY medicine but even more so here where there is no requirement for medical supervision. Medicating is a very very complex act and requires a thorough knowledge of medicine in general in order to provide the optimal care for patients.

We in psychiatry have been accused by non-physicians of trying to "protect our turf" as if that is the problem. That is NOT the problem and never has been and to say that makes it sound as if we in our field have no moral values at all and that we really don't care about the best for the patient.

Such is an absurdity and most people know that. It just becomes a handy statement to make in public and often in front of legislatures. If there were any physicians in any of these state houses, they would know immediately that such is absurd.

I am writing this to you to possible look into. I understand that there is a rush on this bill for some reason. I was also led to believe that there was no public hearing which is very hard to imagine, given the gravity of the situation. Thank you. F. Rodney Drake, M.D.
Past-President Washington Psychiatric Society
Past-President Baltimore-Washington Society for Psychoanalysis
Past-President Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Society of Greater Washington (DC)
5225 Connecticut Ave #405
Washington, DC 20015

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Joe April 8, 2010 2:35 pm (Pacific time)

Of course they are, like dentist and vets.

Hank Ruark April 8, 2010 2:25 pm (Pacific time)

Crucial point here is made by note that in the U.S. all licensed psychiatrists are also DOCTORS. "Anon" fails to tell us if that covers MEDICAL doctors or is merely routine statement of degree awarded psychiatrists. Any informed Oregonian who can nail that down ??? That fact may bear heavily on the agreement of primary care physicians with colleague psychiatrists re ability of psychiatrists to prescribe properly, as further demonstrated by authoritative citation from experience. On the primary rule stating the fewer have a hand in any complex situation, surely the case with prescriptions in support of psychiatric case treatment, it should be clear that the bill was properly vetted and may simplify the situations of second-level involvement by a MEDICAL Dr. Such simplification today is radically involved in rapidly rising healthcare costs, thus making the provision for prescriptions simpler should be a forward step.

Anonymous April 8, 2010 8:26 am (Pacific time)

Please note that licensed psychologists are all DOCTORS in the United States.

Dr. Jon April 8, 2010 7:08 am (Pacific time)

One more point -- the details Senate Bill 1046 were created by a panel which included psychiatrists and primary care physicians. These physicians were convinced that psychologists prescribing under this bill would do so safely.

Dr. Jon April 7, 2010 10:15 pm (Pacific time)

Psychologists prescribing in the military, Louisiana and New Mexico are required to consult with physicians. They are not supervised by physicians. Psychologists are already experts at diagnosing and treating mental health problems. After college they train for about eight years, and this bill would require an additional 3.5 years of training. Psychologists will bring integrated treatment, since they will combine psychological treatments and assessment with safe prescribing. Psychologists have been prescribing safely for 15 years and have written several 100,000 prescriptions without incident.

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