Stories written by David Doolittle

Tapering a Patient’s Opioid Dosage? Follow This Guide - 10/17/2019

In an effort to curb the nationwide opioid epidemic while keeping patients from excessive pain, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week published a guide for physicians considering or initiating a reduction in opioid dosage.


Vaping-Related Lung Disease Gets New Name; More Than 100 Texans Sickened - 10/16/2019

The vaping-related condition that has sickened at least 119 Texans, and hundreds more nationwide, has been named EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. The new name was noted last week in newly issued guidance for clinicians from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


TMA Urges Public Education As Hemp-Based Products Become Legal - 10/16/2019

State health officials should take steps to ensure that a new law that legalizes the production and sale of hemp and some hemp products helps Texas physicians protect the health of patients who use those products. The Texas Medical Association sent that message in a letter last week to the Department of State Health Services, which was taking comments related to implementation of House Bill 1325.


Profile: A Strong Start for Texas Women in Medicine - 10/15/2019

Passionate. Knowledgeable. Dedicated. Strong. Those four words only begin to describe the multitude of women who practice medicine throughout Texas. So it’s only fitting that the physician elected as interim chair of the Texas Medical Association’s new Women in Medicine Section exemplifies these qualities.


Know any Outstanding Science Teachers? Nominate Them for a TMA Grant - 10/15/2019

By now, most Texas schools are back in session, which means plenty of great science teachers have begun educating the next generation of physicians. You can help those outstanding educators become even better teachers by nominating them for the Texas Medical Association’s Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching.


Another Dubious Distinction: Texas Tops Unvaccinated List - 10/11/2019

According to WalletHub, Texas is No. 50 on its “2019's States that Vaccinate the Most” report, which also includes the District of Columbia. The report analyzed 18 key metrics – from share of vaccinated children to people without health insurance, and reported outbreaks such as measles – to determine each state’s ranking.


West Nile Cases Rising in Texas; One Death Confirmed - 10/04/2019

State health officials have confirmed 19 cases of West Nile illness in Texas this year, including one death. Most of the confirmed cases have been identified in El Paso with 13, according to data from the Department of State Health Services. Other cases have been confirmed in Brazoria, Floyd, Hale, Harris, Nolan, and Tarrant counties.


State Health Advisory: New Syphilis Testing Requirements During Pregnancy In Effect - 10/04/2019

As of Sept. 1, Texas physicians are required to test pregnant women for syphilis three times: at the first prenatal visit, during the third trimester (no sooner than the 28th week), and at delivery. Previously, state law required testing at the first visit and during the third trimester.


Grand Rounds Presentation To Focus on Early Warning Systems for Maternal Death - 10/03/2019

There are steps that can help curb the number of maternal deaths, including early recognition and response to abnormal vital signs through early warning systems. If you’d like to learn more about maternal early warning systems, make plans to attend a Department of State Health Services’ Grand Rounds presentation next week.


Medical Devices Could Be Vulnerable to Hackers, FDA Warns - 10/02/2019

Certain medical devices and hospital communications networks could contain cybersecurity vulnerabilities that could allow a remote attacker to take control of the device and change its function, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned on Tuesday.


Prescribing Changes in Texas: Know What You Need to Know - 10/01/2019

By now you might know that state lawmakers recently passed a number of changes to how prescriptions for certain pain medications must be written and processed, as part of a larger effort to fight prescription fraud and abuse. That's why the Texas Medical Association created a free on-demand webinar that outlines what prescribers can expect.


Check Your EHR Settings by Oct. 1 - 10/01/2019

Tuesday is Oct. 1, so if you participate in Medicaid and/or Medicare incentive payment programs, hopefully you’ve already upgraded to the 2015 certified electronic health record technology.


Texas Continues to Lead Nation in Uninsured Adults and Kids - 09/30/2019

As of 2018, 11.2% of Texas children younger than 19 were uninsured, up from 10.7% in 2017, according to data the Census Bureau released last week. All told, Texas has led the nation in uninsured residents over the past two years, Census data show.


Q&A: El Paso Surgeon On-Call During Mass Shooting Response - 09/27/2019

Just as Alan Tyroch, MD, sat down to breakfast in Las Vegas on the morning of Aug. 3, celebrating his mother in-law’s 90th birthday, a gunman walked into a Walmart hundreds of miles away in his hometown of El Paso and opened fire, ultimately killing 22 people and injuring 24 more. Over the following minutes, as shooting victims were rushed to hospitals throughout El Paso, Dr. Tyroch – chief of surgery and trauma medical director at University Medical Center of El Paso – was coordinating and delegating duties via text to the hospital’s numerous surgeons, physicians, residents, and other health care professionals.


The Changing Face of the Opioid Epidemic - 09/27/2019

Opioid abuse and overdose deaths continue to rise in the U.S., with more than 46,000 opioid-related deaths in 2017, up from 5,000 in 2000, data show. But the problem can’t be explained in total deaths alone. The crisis also has changed in character since 2001, new data show.


CDC: More Possible Pulmonary Disease Cases Linked to Vaping Reported - 09/27/2019

Texas health officials are investigating suspected cases of pulmonary disease among people who have reported vaping, according to a health alert posted Friday.


Teach Teens to “Escape the Vape” - 09/27/2019

As a physician you understand the health risks associated with tobacco products, but how do you effectively talk to your young patients about those dangers? Well, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is here to help with a free online course entitled “Escape the Vape: Help Stop the E-Cigarette Epidemic Among Adolescents.”


Watch for Imelda-Caused Health Problems - 09/26/2019

Physicians in Southeast Texas should be on the lookout for potential respiratory and intestinal illnesses in the coming days – a result of air and water pollution caused by Tropical Storm Imelda last week.


Comprehensive Prior Authorization Reforms Needed, Medicine Tells Feds - 09/25/2019

As the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) seeks ways to relieve the burdens of prior authorization on health care, it should not rely solely on automation of electronic health records. Instead, CMS should seek comprehensive reforms that include transparent PA requirements and protections of continuity of care as well as automation, the Texas Medical Association, American Medical Association, and a host of other medical societies wrote in a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma last week.


Prepare for Disasters with TMA’s Help - 09/24/2019

Tropical Depression Imelda deluged parts of Southeast Texas late last week, serving as an all-too-real reminder of the devastation that natural disasters can cause. Whether you or your practice have been directly affected by the storm, or if you are caring for patients who have been, look to the Texas Medical Association’s Disaster Preparedness and Response Resource Center for up-to-date information and tools.


Honor A Physician Doing Outstanding Public Health Work - 09/19/2019

In celebration of the work Texas physicians are doing in public health, the Texas Medical Association has created an award to recognize a member physician who has made outstanding contributions to medicine through a significant commitment to public health.


Have Your Say on Trauma Facility Designations - 09/19/2019

The Texas Department of State Health Services has released a second version of the rules on trauma facilitiy designations. TMA is encouraging you to have your voice and expertise heard.


Get Your Patients to Vote Against Cancer - 09/18/2019

A measure to extend Texas’ place as a leader in the fight against cancer is on the ballot, and you should encourage your patients to get out and vote. To help spread the message about Proposition 6, which extends funding for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), TMA has created a push card that you can place in your waiting room.


File Your MIPS Targeted Review Request by Sept. 30 - 09/18/2019

Physicians have two weeks to file a targeted review request to appeal errors in their 2018 Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) performance feedback and 2020 Medicare payment adjustment under the Quality Payment Program (QPP).


TMB Transitions to Electronic Licenses in September - 09/18/2019

Beginning Sept. 1, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) will no longer issue paper licenses for physicians or physician assistants. Instead, new and renewed licenses will be available via the My TMB online portal.