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Safe Prescribing

Safe Prescribing for Patients

Psychiatric Drugs: The Mind and The Body

Powerful psychiatric drugs, some of the most potent medications in modern medicine, affect not only the mind but can also affect a person’s heart, liver, kidneys, and other organs.

Mental health clinicians play different, important roles in patient care. It is essential to patient safety that medically-trained clinicians, like psychiatrists, prescribe and manage mental health medications.

Points to Consider

  • Psychiatric drugs can interact poorly with other medications taken for non-mental health conditions.
  • Medical doctors have graduated from medical school and passed a state medical licensing exam—signaling they have the training and expertise to prescribe medications safely.
  • Psychiatrists, patients, and patient advocates in mental health care know that extending prescription rights to people who are not medically trained is dangerous.
  • State legislators and policy makers should support innovative, team-based models and telehealth to safely increase access to care.

The Difference Between Psychiatrists and Psychologists

Completing medical school, intern programs, hospital residencies, and fellowship programs for medical specialties gives psychiatrists comprehensive training. This is essential to understanding diagnosis and treatment.

Psychologists are not medical doctors and do not have this extensive training. They are important members of the team, but should not prescribe powerful psychiatric medications.

A doctor talks to a child patient