Measure would give psychologists power to prescribe - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Measure would give psychologists power to prescribe

(Image: Wikimedia Commons) (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

To address a growing shortage of psychiatrists in the islands, lawmakers are considering a measure that would give psychologists the ability to prescribe medication to the mentally ill. 

State Sen. Josh Green, who's an emergency room doctor, said people in rural areas and those on the Neighbor Islands often struggle to get care from a psychiatrists.

Those people instead end up in ERs.

"I very likely will see individuals this weekend that have mental health issues or drug addiction," he said. "It's very difficult for me when I take care of a patient on the Big Island to find a psychiatrist that will admit someone to the hospital or who will be able to take a patient as a long term patient."

People who are uninsured and those on Medicaid often can't get help from psychiatrists.

Because of the shortage, ERs and community health centers are inundated with patients suffering from mental illness.

The proposed measure, House Bill 1072, would require that psychologists get the equivalent of a master's degree in psychopharmacology in order to prescribe medical. They would also have to pass a licensing test.

This isn't the first time Hawaii has considered this legislation, but the shortage of psychiatrists is bringing new attention to the issue. Other states have passed similar measures, including New Mexico and Louisiana.

The Department of Defense also allows psychologists to prescribe medication.

Trisha Kajimura, executive director of Mental Health America of Hawaii, said the DOD has allowed psychologists to prescribe for "a couple of decades and they haven't had any problems."

Supporters say the measure won't just address the psychiatrist shortage. It will also prevent patients from being bounced around from one health care provider to another.

"There are people in rural communities that are not able to access psychiatric treatment at all," Kajimura said. "I think this tool will help people experiencing homelessness who are the ones not living on the street for a long time."

But opponents say the bill doesn't provide enough safeguards for patients. 

Elaine Heiby, licensed psychologist, said prescribing psychologists would get about 10 percent of the medical training that psychiatrists do. Psychiatrists attend medical school.

"That's a radical reduction and the concern is consumer safety," she said.

A 2014 survey of 1,000 psychologists found 90 percent believed their medical training was substandard.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

  • Hawaii News Now headlinesNewsMore>>

  • Smoking hits new low; about 14 percent of US adults light up

    Smoking hits new low; about 14 percent of US adults light up

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 1:10 AM EDT2018-06-19 05:10:52 GMT
    Thursday, June 21 2018 6:03 PM EDT2018-06-21 22:03:37 GMT
    (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File). FILE - In this June 22, 2012, file photo, a smoker snuffs out a cigarette at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. The rate of smoking among adults in the U.S. fell to about 14 percent in 2017, according to new data relea...(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File). FILE - In this June 22, 2012, file photo, a smoker snuffs out a cigarette at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. The rate of smoking among adults in the U.S. fell to about 14 percent in 2017, according to new data relea...
    Smoking by US adults hits another all-time low; about 14 percent smoke cigarettes.More >>
    Smoking by US adults hits another all-time low; about 14 percent smoke cigarettes.More >>
  • Added stress: Lava evacuees struggle with thieves, trespassers

    Added stress: Lava evacuees struggle with thieves, trespassers

    Thursday, June 21 2018 5:59 PM EDT2018-06-21 21:59:01 GMT
    Rivers of lava flow from fissure no. 8 toward the sea off Kapoho. (Image: Andrew Hara)Rivers of lava flow from fissure no. 8 toward the sea off Kapoho. (Image: Andrew Hara)

    There have been more than a dozen reported property-related crimes in the lower Puna area since evacuees have been forced to leave their homes in early May. 

    More >>

    There have been more than a dozen reported property-related crimes in the lower Puna area since evacuees have been forced to leave their homes in early May. 

    More >>
  • Immigrant kids seen held in fenced cages at border facility

    Immigrant kids seen held in fenced cages at border facility

    Monday, June 18 2018 9:00 AM EDT2018-06-18 13:00:17 GMT
    Thursday, June 21 2018 5:57 PM EDT2018-06-21 21:57:20 GMT
    (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP). In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the...(U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP). In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the...
    Hundreds of unaccompanied child immigrants arrested at the U.S. border are being held in metal cages at a family detention facility in McAllen, Texas.More >>
    Hundreds of unaccompanied child immigrants arrested at the U.S. border are being held in metal cages at a family detention facility in McAllen, Texas.More >>
Powered by Frankly