ARTICLE: Fool's Gold: Psychologists Using Disingenuous Reasoning to Mislead Legislatures into Granting Psychologists Prescriptive Authority Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2003 Boston University School of Law
American Journal of Law & Medicine

ARTICLE: Fool's Gold: Psychologists Using Disingenuous Reasoning to Mislead Legislatures into Granting Psychologists Prescriptive Authority


29 Am. J. L. and Med. 489


Brent Pollitt +



Mental illness is a serious problem in the United States. Based on "current epidemiological estimates, at least one in five people has a diagnosable mental disorder during the course of a year." 1 Fortunately, many of these disorders respond positively to psychotropic medications. While psychiatrists write some of the prescriptions for psychotropic medications, primary care physicians 2 write more of them. 3 State legislatures, seeking to expand patient access to pharmacological treatment, granted physician assistants and nurse practitioners prescriptive authority for psychotropic medications. 4 Over the past decade other groups have gained some form of prescriptive authority. 5 Currently, psychologists 6 comprise the primary group seeking prescriptive authority for psychotropic medications. 7

The American Society for the Advancement of Pharmacotherapy ("ASAP"), 8 a division of the American Psychological Association ("APA"), 9 spearheads the drive for psychologists to gain prescriptive authority. The American Psychological Association offers five main reasons why legislatures should grant psychologists this privilege: 1) psychologists' education and clinical training better qualify them to diagnose and treat mental illness in comparison with primary care physicians; 10 2) the Department of Defense Psychopharmacology Demonstration Project ("PDP") demonstrated non-physician psychologists can prescribe psychotropic medications safely; 11 3) the recommended post-doctoral training requirements adequately prepare psychologists to prescribe safely psychotropic medications; 12 4) this privilege will increase availability of mental healthcare services, especially in rural areas; 13 and 5) this privilege will result in an overall reduction in medical expenses, because patients will ...
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