Is it dangerous to have a general practitioner prescribe psychiatric medication?
Published on March 11, 2013 by Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D. in Mental Wealth
What are the dangers of obtaining psychotropic medications from a primary care provider?
Most of the time, patients approach their general practitioner first to seek help for mental health related complaints. If it’s a fairly straightforward case, the GP is usually able to address the situation appropriately. The problem arises when a more serious mental health condition is brewing, or there is a safety concern. The patient has a ten or fifteen minute appointment to describe their complaints–compared to a one or two hour session or multiple sessions with a psychiatrist or psychologist. The patient typically wants some action to be taken immediately, and the doctor only knows what the patient tells them. The physician feels pressure to do something to provide some relief, and voila—the patient walks out with a prescription (or two).
Generally speaking, primary care providers do not have the time or the expertise to obtain a really good psychiatric history and complete a thorough assessment. They’re not able to sit down with the patient and the patient’s family to discuss potential short and long-term risks of medication in detail, and may not even be aware of them. They also can’t fully assess or address psychosocial issues that may be relevant to the person’s well-being and safety.