Louisiana psychologists can prescribe meds

Fifty nonphysicians stand ready to file for prescribing privileges.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted June 7, 2004

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Louisiana's governor signed a bill in May that gives psychologists prescribing authority, making the state the second in the nation to do so.

Psychiatrists said this action puts patients at risk and erodes the quality of medical care. But psychologists said it improves patients' access to mental health treatment.

New Mexico passed prescribing rights for psychologists in 2002 and is expected to begin accepting applications for certificates later this summer. Less than a dozen psychologists are expected to qualify in New Mexico, while some 50 psychologists are anticipated to meet certificate requirements in Louisiana, according to the American Psychological Assn. An estimated 200 psychologists nationwide are thought to have completed postdoctoral prescribing programs, the association said.

Michelle Riba, MD, president of the American Psychiatric Assn., said giving psychologists prescribing authority jeopardizes public safety.

"Gov. [Kathleen] Blanco and the Louisiana State Legislature have codified a dangerous, substandard level of care as legally acceptable in Louisiana," Dr. Riba said.

The American Medical Association also opposes psychologist prescribing.

The law will require psychologists to collaborate with the patient's primary care physician, but psychiatrists called this inadequate.

"There is nothing in the law to ensure that a physician will ever lay eyes on the patient," Dr. Riba said.

Psychiatrists also took issue with the oversight system.

"The law vests sole oversight of prescribing psychologists with the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, a regulatory board whose members are not trained in the practice of medicine and cannot judge the medical competency of anyone," Dr. Riba said.

The psychologists group, on the other hand, sees prescribing rights as a way to increase access to care.

"Louisiana, like New Mexico, had identified a pretty significant access-to-care problem," said Russ Newman, PhD, executive director for professional practice for the American Psychological Assn.

Back to top

External links

Louisiana House Bill 1426 on psychologist prescribing authority, in pdf (link)

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn