Medical Advocates Applaud Healthcare "Truth In Advertising" Bill, USA
A survey conducted in 2006 for the associations found that the vast majority of respondents (90 percent) were concerned about their providers' qualifications, and 86 percent supported federal legislation that would make it easier for them to understand the qualifications of the health care professionals that treat them and their families.
"Patients shouldn't have to play roulette with their health care," said APA President-elect Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D. "Now is the time for truth and transparency in health care. Information is power - the power to make better choices, the power to protect you and your family's safety, and the power to keep costs in check by getting you the care you need the first time you seek it."
In the mental health field alone, there are numerous examples of non-physician providers who have failed to help settle patients' confusion over which providers offer what services. Among the most egregious cases, in Louisiana, psychologists - who are not physicians - sought and won the right to prescribe psychotropic medications, not by virtue of securing a medical degree, but by convincing the legislature to grant them that right and call themselves "medical psychologists." Worse, the law does not vest oversight of "medical psychologists" with the state medical board, but 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 medical competency. Similar legislation is now pending in Hawaii, where medical and patient advocates have joined together to urge the governor to veto the controversial measure.
"The term 'medical psychologist' encourages a patient to believe he or she is being seen by a medical doctor, when they're really being seen by someone without a medical degree. To me, that is deceptive," said Dr. Robinowitz. "Psychologists may be able to help with a broken heart, too, but that wouldn't make them cardiologists. It is wrong to subject people in need to substandard - and perhaps even dangerous - care by misleading them. We urge Congress to pass the Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act now."
Supporting the Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act are leading professional associations representing diverse physician specialties, including the American Psychiatric Association, the Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, the American College of Surgeons, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
About the American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association is the nation's leading medical specialty society whose more than 38,000 physician members specialize in diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses including substance use disorders. Visit the APA at www.psych.org and www.HealthyMinds.org.
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