Stories from Texas Medicine, August 2017

Thinking Big - 09/19/2018

Most public health measures languished in the 85th Texas Legislature, but those for mental health care stood out as a giant exception. Lawmakers passed more than a dozen bills aimed at improving mental health care. And at a time when most state budgets were slashed, funding for mental health care rose ― by a lot.

Cranial Asymmetry Versus Microcephaly: Implications for Practice During the Zika Virus Epidemic - 08/02/2017

Congenital microcephaly can be the result of genetic, teratogenic, mechanical, infectious, and other factors affecting the fetal brain. Transient craniofacial asymmetries and cranial molding can mimic congenital microcephaly caused by brain abnormalities or neurotropic infectious pathogens, including Zika. We present two neonates who were born with head circumference at or below the 3rd percentile for gestational age, and had improving head measurements at discharge from the nursery and resolution of the microcephaly by the second month of life. The diagnostic workup of the first patient revealed congenital cranial bone asymmetry and molding, and the second patient's workup revealed cranial molding. Other etiologies for their microcephaly were excluded. These two cases highlight the importance of standardized serial head circumference measurements as part of the workup for neonatal microcephaly. Clinical exclusion of transient congenital craniofacial asymmetries and cranial molding cou...

Public Health's Lean Year - 07/25/2017

Medicine's agenda advanced on many fronts in the 2017 Texas Legislature, but it made only modest gains in public health. The most significant came in a package of reforms and budget increases for mental health care. Other victories included the passage of House Bill 62, a statewide ban on texting while driving, and House Bill 3576, which provides resources to the Texas Department of State Health Services to track, study, and prevent the spread of Zika. Medicine kept several bad public health bills bottled up in committee.

It Changes Their Lives - 07/25/2017

Organ transplants are acknowledged to be the best ― often the only ― treatment for organ failure; however, the very success of organ donation has created a seemingly never-ending discrepancy between demand and supply.

More Work Done - 07/20/2017

On June 6, a little more than a week after the Texas Legislature adjourned, Governor Abbott called for the special session to begin on July 18. He directed the legislature to make renewal of the Texas Medical Board and several other state agencies its first priority. He said he would allow the legislature to tackle a list of 19 other items after that.

Lessening the Grip - 07/20/2017

The Texas Legislature took a giant step toward lifting the burden of maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements on most Texas physicians by approving Senate Bill 1148. The new law will prevent the Texas Medical Board from using MOC as a requirement for doctors to obtain or renew a medical license. SB 1148 also bars hospitals and health plans from requiring physicians to obtain MOC for credentialing or contracts, though there will be some exceptions.

Investing in Education - 07/19/2017

During the 85th legislative session, Texas lawmakers helped pave the way for two possible new medical schools, while ensuring that graduates have more options for residency positions.

Funding Cancer Research - 07/19/2017

During the 85th legislative session, Texas lawmakers approved sunset legislation that will prolong the life of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) from 2021 to 2023.