Public Health

Section 7: Invest in Public Health and Behavioral Health - 12/04/2019

The phrase “public health” elicits numerous images: first responders at a natural disaster, disease detectives peering through microscopes, posters, videos and flyers urging parents to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases, anti-smoking campaigns. Public health is all of this and more. It’s state and local government agencies, and individual physicians, working to detect, respond to, and prevent what’s bad for the health of Texans.


Screening Families of North Texans to Identify Persons with an Increased Risk for Cancer Due to Lynch Syndrome - 12/04/2019

In 2016, the UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Cancer Genetics Program was awarded a grant (PP160103) by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to increase awareness of hereditary cancer syndromes, particularly Lynch syndrome (LS), and implement a population-based genetic screening program to identify those at high genetic risk for cancer.


Addressing Autism: Giving Physicians Tools - 12/04/2019

Autism spectrum disorder is a fast-growing, serious developmental disability in the U.S., affecting an estimated one out of 59 children nationally, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is about four times more common in boys than girls. In recognition of its growing importance, TMA’s House of Delegates in 2019 approved a resolution encouraging physicians to expand and promote resources for families of people with autism.


Q&A: Food Allergies in Children a Public Health Problem - 12/04/2019

Ask Austin allergist Allen Lieberman, MD, which public health issue hasn’t received the attention it deserves, and his answer shouldn’t be a surprise. “Eight percent of kids have a food allergy,” Dr. Lieberman, who founded Austin Family Allergy and Asthma in 2016, told Texas Medicine. “It’s literally a food-allergy epidemic right now.”


Vitamin E Acetate “A Strong Culprit” in Vaping-Related Lung Injuries - 12/03/2019

Vitamin E acetate, a sticky substance used in skin lotions and vitamin supplements, could be to blame for severe lung injuries linked to vaping that have sickened more than 200 people in Texas and thousands more across the U.S., health officials said Friday.


Two Texas E. Coli Cases Associated With Romaine Lettuce Identified - 12/03/2019

Health officials have confirmed two E. coli cases in Texas associated with tainted romaine lettuce produced in California. Officials with the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had few details about the Texas cases.


Help Texas Improve Health Outcomes for New Mothers and Infants - 12/03/2019

As a physician, you’ve seen first-hand some of the health challenges new mothers and their infants face, not only during pregnancy but in the days and months after birth. But if you’re interested in learning more about those challenges, and best practices for preventing and caring for them, plan to attend the 2020 Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies Summit in late February.


How Do Vaccines Prevent Us from Getting Sick? - 12/02/2019

Vaccines work to prevent people from catching infectious diseases. Here’s how: They introduce a dead or weakened version of the virus or bacteria to train our natural defenses to kick in. If our body faces a real threat from the live germ later, the immune system is armed to block it from harming us.


Science: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism; Physicians Fight to Reassure, Immunize - 11/19/2019

Physicians repeat it over and over: Vaccines like the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine do not cause autism; they are safe and effective. Yet the decades-old false claim that vaccines do cause autism has convinced millions of parents not to give their children potentially lifesaving shots and could lead more to opt out, according to Texas physicians.


Leveraging LARCs: Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives Part of Texas’ Solution to Unwanted Pregnancies, Maternal Deaths - 11/16/2019

Today LARCs are one of the safest and most-effective types of reversible birth control, but their reputation took a huge hit in the 1970s thanks to the Dalkon Shield intrauterine device (IUD). Memories persist of news reports about the shield’s many defects. This mistrust of LARCs — along with other obstacles to their wider use — hamper progress toward a wider goal for Texas medicine: improving maternal health and reducing maternal deaths across the state.


Webinar to Explore Creating a Healthy Long-Term Care System - 11/15/2019

If you’re interested in the current landscape of the long-term care delivery system, its funding mechanisms, and the state and federal legislation that model this system, tune into a webinar scheduled for Monday, Nov. 18.


Prop. 6 Passage Will Save Lives - 11/06/2019

Statement by David C. Fleeger, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association, in reaction to the passage of Proposition 6.  “Thanks to Texans who checked ‘yes’ in support of Proposition 6 in today’s election, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) can build on its legacy of saving countless Texans’ lives, while saving and making Texas millions of dollars every year...."


Talk to Patients About: Flu - 10/24/2019

Flu is serious, and the vaccine can prevent or minimize the illness.


Why Vaccine Opponents Think They Know More Than Medical Experts - 10/24/2019

Given the consistent message from the scientific community about the safety of vaccines, and evidence of vaccine success as seen through the eradication of diseases, why has the skepticism about vaccines continued? One possibility is that attitudes about medical experts help to explain the endorsement of anti-vax attitudes ... that some U.S. adults might support anti-vax policy positions in part because they believe they know more than medical experts about autism and its causes.


Pertussis (Whooping Cough) - 10/22/2019

Since the 1980s, pertussis cases in the United States have increased, especially among adolescents and adults. The best way to prevent pertussis infections among adolescents and adults is a Tdap booster.


Honor A Physician Doing Outstanding Public Health Work - 10/22/2019

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.


Health Officials Lay Out Blueprint for Making Texas Healthier - 10/16/2019

Texas health officials Wednesday released their inaugural "Blueprint for a Healthy Texas," which identifies 12 health care target areas most important to the state and lays out plans for addressing them in 2020.


“Blueprint” Can Chart Course Toward Healthier Texans - 10/16/2019

Please attribute this statement about the Blueprint for a Healthy Texas initiative to David C. Fleeger, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association (TMA). “Congratulations to Executive Commissioner Dr. Courtney Phillips and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission for launching this ambitious multipoint initiative to improve the health of Texans..."


TMA to Host Panelists to Highlight CPRIT’s Cancer-Fighting Achievements - 10/15/2019

As Texans head to voting booths in early November to choose whether to extend Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) funding, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) and Texas Public Health Coalition (TPHC) will explore the state’s cancer research and prevention advancements, at its third Distinguished Speaker Series event. 


TMA Supports Texas A&M Vaping Ban - 10/09/2019

“The Texas Medical Association strongly commends the Texas A&M University System’s ban of vaping products on all of its campuses and properties. As current nationwide investigations and health warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm, these products can be dangerous and even lethal, even though manufacturers have marketed these devices as safer alternatives to smoking."


House Bill 3703 (86th Texas Legislature) and Expansion of Texas’ Compassionate Use Act - 10/09/2019

In its 2019 session, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3703 (Rep. Stephanie Klick), effective immediately, expanding the list of diseases that may be treated with low-tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) cannabis. The bill also broadened the types of specialty physicians who may qualify to register with the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas to recommend treat-ment with low-THC cannabis to patients.


TMA Celebrates 25 Years of Bike Helmet Giveaways With Events Statewide in October - 10/08/2019

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) will give away nearly 3,500 bicycle helmets to Texas children in October to celebrate the 25th birthday of its Hard Hats for Little Heads program. Since starting Hard Hats for Little Heads in 1994, TMA has given away more than 325,000 helmets to Texas children.


Texas Neighborhoods Worlds Apart in Life Expectancy - 10/08/2019

The Houston-based Episcopal Health Foundation last week issued a report comparing the life expectancy at birth of someone born in each of Texas’ 4,709 census tracts. Given the growing recognition of the importance of social determinants of health, I thought I’d dive into the report to find some good examples to share with you. I didn’t realize how deep that dive would become.


November Ballot Will Decide Future of Cancer Research in Texas - 10/03/2019

Billions of dollars in cancer-fighting grants, research, and preventive care are on the line when Texas voters go to the polls on Nov. 5. Physicians and other supporters hope voters will elect to continue funding the state’s cancer-fighting agency, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).


The Doctor - and Lawyer - Will See You Now: Medical-Legal Partnerships - 09/27/2019

Elderly woman. Low-income. Chronic pain. Needs to see a rheumatologist. Needs physical therapy. Struggling to pay rent. Has no insurance. Has no disability coverage. As a family physician at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Austin, Sharad Kohli, MD, sees a lot of cases like this. In similar health care settings, the patient might face two bad choices: wage bureaucratic war to obtain better health care benefits or simply give up. At People’s Community Clinic, Dr. Kohli referred her to an in-house lawyer who successfully appealed her denial of disability insurance. “[The lawyer] got her a significant income, which allowed her to pay her rent and also helped her get insurance through Medicaid and Medicare,” Dr. Kohli said. “And then she was able to see the rheumatologist and the physical therapist.” This kind of success helps explain why medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) like the one at People’s Community Clinic came about in 1993 and began expanding nationally after 2001. Te...