The Return Of The Psychologist Bill

Larry Price
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Wednesday - March 07, 2007
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A long time ago I asked a doctor of psychiatry, “Excuse me, doctor, how do you know if you are insane?”

At the time it was an important question. I was a little surprised when he responded, “If you think you are insane, it’s proof that you are not.”

I naturally asked why.

He replied, “Individuals who are insane don’t care what other people think about their mental wellness.”

Ever since then I have been impressed by those who dedicate their lives to the well-being of patients with mental illness. If there is a tough job, day in day out, it has to be working with emotionally or mentally challenged people.

That’s why I am fascinated with the never-ending battle going on at the Legislature over HB-2589, HD-2, SD-1 relating to psychologists. It gets defeated every year, but keeps getting re-introduced.

In its simplest form, the bill asks that psychologists be allowed to prescribe a limited formulary of psychotropic medications for the treatment of mental illness while practicing in federally qualified health centers or licensed health clinics.

The key word in the bill appears to be psychotropic medications. It’s what makes this bill a tough pill to swallow. To the amateur, it means anything to do with the brain. These are really powerful medications intended for patients who, for the most part, cannot speak or defend themselves. These types of drugs are dangerous not only for the mind, but the entire body.

Over the years the bill has been tweaked after each defeat and has become more formidable by adding additional provisions.

The difference between someone with a doctorate in psychology and someone with a medical degree in psychiatry is like the difference between a house painter and Picasso. Psychiatry has a more difficult curriculum, a longer internship and tougher qualifying exams.

For those who have or know someone who has lost a loved one, or have personally experienced what happens when a doctor inadvertently prescribes conflicting drugs, you know firsthand the right to prescribe psychotropic medications is very serious business and should not be taken lightly under any circumstances, especially by legislators who don’t even need a college degree to practice their craft.

Hopefully, this bill will be deferred again to send a message to psychologists who want to prescribe dangerous drugs to go back to medical school and learn how it’s done safely. In the final analysis, safe care is what’s needed, not quick fixes.

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