APA applauds new California regulations for inpatient psychological services


Washington, D.C., April 14, 2005 -- California patients suffering from serious mental illness will now have the benefit of having their inpatient care managed by psychologists with full hospital privileges.

New state regulations issued by the state's Department of Health Services (DHS), recognizes California psychologists' expertise in diagnosing and treating mental disorders which allows them to serve their patients in acute care hospitals as attending practitioners. The California agency's new rules allow both psychologists and psychiatrists to direct patient care as a member of the hospital medical staff, including decisions on when to admit, transfer, and discharge patients. The new regulations are a result of longstanding efforts by organized psychology to enforce laws already on the books. The new regulations resulted from recent negotiations between DHS and Psychology Shield, a non-profit organization devoted to improving patient care in California's state-operated mental hospitals. Psychology Shield is supported by the American Psychological Association, the California Psychological Association, and other individuals and organizations including the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 2620.

"California psychologists working in hospital settings, and well within the scope of their licenses, will be able to fully serve their patients as attending clinicians," says Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., executive director for professional practice, American Psychological Association.

In 1978, California enacted a law granting psychologists full clinical privileges in hospitals and the authority to direct patient care as members of hospital medical staffs. In 1990, the California Supreme Court affirmed the law in CAPP v. Rank and ruled that psychologists have the legal authority to practice independently in both private and public health facilities. In spite of the Court's ruling, over the past 15 years, psychologists were prevented from directing patient care in California state mental hospitals.

The California legislature and courts have been leaders in recognizing the important role that psychologists can and should play in mental hospitals. Seventeen other states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws allowing psychologists hospital privileges.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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