Stories written by David Doolittle

Above-Average Flu Activity Throughout Texas; One Pediatric Death Reported - 11/18/2019

Confirmed and possible cases of flu and flu-like illnesses have risen significantly across Texas in recent weeks, state health officials said, with one death reported – a 5-year-old who lived in the Rio Grande Valley.


“Patient Privacy Must Be Protected,” TMA Says in Response to Ascension-Google Partnership - 11/14/2019

Protecting sensitive patient health information should remain a top priority as technology and health care continue to intersect, Texas Medical Association President David C. Fleeger, MD, said Thursday in response to a partnership between Google and Ascension health system.


Register Now For The TMA 2020 Winter Conference - 11/14/2019

Attend the Texas Medical Association's 2020 Winter Conference, scheduled for Jan. 24-25 at the Hyatt Regency Austin and the Louis J. Goodman Texas Medical Association Building (Friday only) in downtown Austin. Online registration is now open.


Open Enrollment 2020: Be Prepared for Coverage Changes - 11/13/2019

You’re probably already aware that open enrollment for commercial health insurance plans, including those on the Affordable Care Act Exchanges, opened Nov. 1 and will run through Dec. 15. While some patients won’t make any changes to their coverage, others will make significant changes, including enrolling with a completely different health plan.


Updated White Paper Has Latest Information on Telemedicine in Texas - 11/12/2019

Updated this year, the Texas Medical Association's white paper, Texas Laws and Regulations Relating to Telemedicine, describes the new Texas legal and regulatory requirements that apply to a physician providing telemedicine medical services.


Texas Among Best in Keeping Medical Students, Residents Practicing In-State, Report Shows - 11/11/2019

Texas continues to rank among the most successful states in retaining physicians from its medical schools and residency programs, beating out 47 other states, data from 2019 show.


Vitamin E Acetate “A Strong Culprit” in Vaping-Related Lung Injuries - 11/11/2019

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.


More Cases of Severe Pulmonary Disease Associated With Vaping Identified in Texas - 11/06/2019

The number of people with pulmonary illness linked to vaping continues to rise both in Texas and nationwide, but health officials are still not certain what’s causing the illnsses. As of Monday, 222 possible cases of EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, have been reported in Texas.


Get Details About Your 5% Medicare Bonus - 11/05/2019

If you participated in the advanced alternative payment model (APM) track during the 2017 Quality Payment Program (QPP) performance year, full details of your 5% APM incentive payment are finally available.


West Nile Cases Rising in Texas; One Death Confirmed - 10/29/2019

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.


TMA to Trump: Do Not Expand NPPs’ Scope of Practice - 10/29/2019

When President Donald Trump released an executive order earlier this month that would, in part, expand the scope of practice of nonphysician practitioners, the Texas Medical Association vowed to keep physicians at the head of the health care team. On Monday, TMA President David Fleeger, MD, took a major step to do that, urging President Trump and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to remove that language entirely.


Profile: A Strong Start for Texas Women in Medicine - 10/22/2019

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.


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.


No Cannabis for Pregnant Women or New Mothers, FDA Warns - 10/22/2019

Texas physicians are encouraged to help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration spread the word to pregnant and breast-feeding mothers to avoid using cannabis and cannabis-derived products.


Help Promote National Drug Prescription Take Back Day on Oct. 26 - 10/22/2019

Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which allows people to dispose of prescription drugs safely and anonymously, is scheduled for Oct. 26 at locations throughout the state.


Tapering a Patient’s Opioid Dosage? Follow This Guide - 10/18/2019

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.


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.


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.


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.