Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Calif. Implements Psychologist Admitting Privileges

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Calif. Implements Psychologist Admitting Privileges

Article excerpt

California psychiatrists are wondering whether prescribing will be next, now that newly issued state regulations allow psychologists in the state to have admitting privileges for psychiatric patients.

"This would be a prelude to that, if you want to think about it from the psychologists' perspective," said Randall Hagar, director of government affairs at the California Psychiatric Association in Sacramento. "Getting this kind of privilege would be 'physiciandom' [so now they will say], 'In order to better treat our patients, we need to be able to handle the medication aspect of it. We're prevented from taking good care of our patients until we get this privilege.'"

Psychology groups, however, reject the notion that getting these regulations into place is a stepping-stone to prescribing. "The big difference between prescribing and the hospital practices at issue with these laws is that the activities being envisioned by these regulations are already within the scope of the psychologist's license," said Russ Newman, Ph.D., executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association in Washington. "Prescribing is not, it would require a psychology licensure change."

The regulations, which apply to patients at psychiatric hospitals as well as those in psychiatric wards of acute-care facilities, permit psychologists to admit patients, order therapy, ask for consultations, and approve ground and weekend privileges, said Charles Faltz, Ph.D., director of professional affairs at the California Psychological Association in Sacramento.

Dr. Faltz added that although such privileges may be very new to some psychologists, others have already been doing much of the admitting work themselves anyway. He said that before he began working for the association, he was on the full medical staff of a hospital and was admitting and managing patients. "The way it's done is in collaboration with a physician--usually with both the primary care physician and the psychiatrist who prescribes medications," he said.

One of the issues in dispute with the California regulations--which were first promulgated in 1978 and finally issued in April--is the way in which they were approved. …

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