To the Editor:
I am a board-certified psychiatrist. I strongly urge a “no” vote on Senate Bill 2187 to grant prescribing privileges to Illinois psychologists.
1.) In medicine, the brain and the mind cannot be separated from the rest of the body. A prescriber must have comprehensive understanding of the body and medications. Psychiatrists attend medical school. We know, live and breathe understanding of the entire human body and all medications. Psychologists who take a course in psychiatric drugs cannot learn enough to prescribe them competently.
For example: A patient with a cardiac history called. He had chest pain since starting his antidepressant. Was the medication worsening his heart condition? I asked questions, had him perform simple behaviors during our telephone conversation, and assured him his pain was not cardiac though it 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 rural areas do not have prescribers for psychotropic medications. However, all health-care professionals 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 rapidly coming. Psychiatrists can provide services to patients throughout the state with simple video hookups, services which include the benefit of our comprehensive training in medicine.
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