Stories written by Sean Price

Leveraging LARCs: Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives Part of Texas’ Solution to Unwanted Pregnancies, Maternal Deaths - 10/17/2019

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.


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.


Rule of Fear: Misconceptions About Immigration Rule Deters Migrants From Seeking Care - 10/15/2019

In September 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proposed a change in the rule for “public charges” – people who depend primarily on the government for assistance. The about-face would limit access to green cards and temporary visas for most immigrants who receive Medicaid and other public benefits. Almost immediately, the news instilled fear among immigrant communities along the Texas-Mexico border, and rumors started spreading about what the change meant for their access to health care.


Experience. That’s Why Physicians Lead Medical Teams - 10/14/2019

Because advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants interact with so many patients, many assume nonphysician practitioners are a type of physician or a physician-in-training. This chart compares how physicians, APRNs, and PAs in Texas are educated, trained, and employed in health care settings. It shows why APRNs and PAs are considered vital parts of medical teams – and why physicians are the leaders of those teams.


Physicians Need to Prepare for New Opioid Rules and Best Practices - 10/09/2019

Texas physicians need to prepare for changes in state law tied to opioid prescribing in the coming months, according to the three-physician panel that addressed "Responding to the Opioid Epidemic" at the 2019 Texas Medical Association Fall Conference.


Talk to Patients About: Measles Update - 10/01/2019

Measles outbreaks in the U.S. were once a rare event, but in 2019 they turned into a potential public health crisis. Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 8, more than 1,200 cases of the deadly disease – which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared eradicated in America in 2000 – have been confirmed in 30 states.


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...


The Promise of Artificial Intelligence - 09/27/2019

“Prepare Yourselves, Robots Will Soon Replace Doctors in Healthcare,” screamed the headline in a 2017 Forbes magazine article. Media coverage like that makes it easy to see why artificial intelligence (AI) sounds like scary science fiction to some physicians.


Vote for CPRIT - 09/26/2019

On Nov. 5, Texans will vote on Proposition 6, a constitutional amendment designed to extend CPRIT’s funding by $3 billion and keep the agency’s grants flowing for an estimated 10 additional years. (See “Vote for Proposition 6 on Nov. 5,” page 21.) TMA supports this effort to keep CPRIT’s current funding from running out in 2022.


A New Understanding: Improving Care for LGBTQ Patients - 09/18/2019

Like everyone else, LGBTQ patients can face some unusual medical problems. But many of these patients’ biggest challenge is that their health problems can be amplified by hostility from others. Meanwhile, structural problems within the health care system frequently discourage LGBTQ patients from visiting physicians. LGBTQ patients frequently avoid physicians because of previous bad experiences. Many physicians who would like to treat LGBTQ patients often hesitate because they fear they lack the training.


Texas Physicians Urged to Vote for Prop. 6 on Nov. 5 to Preserve CPRIT - 09/17/2019

State Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Richmond), encouraged his fellow Texas physician leaders to vote Nov. 5 for Proposition 6, a constitutional amendment designed to extend funding for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. "It's an incredibly important thing to all of us," Dr. Zerwas told physicians at the 2019 Texas Medical Association Fall Conference on Saturday.


TMA Can Take Lead in Addressing Social Determinants of Health - 09/16/2019

Despite widespread knowledge about the impact of social determinants of health – such as housing and food insecurity – the U.S. health care system does a poor job of taking those factors into account when caring for patients, the co-founders of The Health Initiative, a Boston nonprofit, told physicians at the Texas Medical Association's Fall Conference on Saturday.  


Federal Dollars Bolster Texas Efforts to Combat Maternal Mortality - 09/13/2019

 A pair of Texas agencies won separate multi-million dollar grants from the U.S. government to help curb maternal death and illness in the state. 


AIMing to Save Lives: More Standardized Care Could Bring Down Texas' Maternal Death Rate - 09/12/2019

Texas’ maternal death rate is still high, and public health officials are betting that more standardized care will bring it down with guidelines set up by the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM).


Almost $1 Million Awarded to Develop Residency Programs - 09/05/2019

Four Texas medical schools, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations received about $250,000 each to develop new first-year graduate medical education programs in the state. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board awarded the one-time grants as part of its Planning and Partnership Grant Program, which helps institutions create residency programs.


Dell Med’s “Growth Year”: Innovative Curriculum Hits Milepost - 09/04/2019

Dell Medical School turned students’ third year into a “growth year” in which they could pursue either an independent health care project or a dual degree. Here’s how three Dell Med students spent this past year.


Firearms Safety: A Growing Public Health Threat - 09/04/2019

Michael Bagg was bothered by how his fellow students at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston reacted to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, which killed 58 people. He started talking with a classmate about ways to address firearms that would improve safety while also respecting the rights of gun owners. Together, they came up with a preclinical curriculum for an elective class on firearms safety that has been taught at the school for the past two years. The course, which more than 100 students have attended, addresses topics such as the treatment of injuries and threat identification.


Unlocking Doors: Minority Scholarship Program Connects Students with Mentors - 09/04/2019

When the Texas Medical Association founded its Minority Scholarship Program in 1998 to diversify the physician workforce, Dr. Ramamurthy became both a contributor and a mentor to students who receive the scholarships. “When you’re mentoring students, one of the things that you want them to understand is that you’re somebody they can talk to who is not only there as a teacher, but as a friend,” she said. Other top donors to the Minority Scholarship serve voluntarily as mentors to student awardees. TMA encourages those arrangements because they can benefit both parties.


Talk to Patients About: Vaccines During Pregnancy - 09/04/2019

Protecting moms and babies from certain diseases often starts with pregnant women. Child-bearing women may not realize they pass on disease-fighting antibodies to their babies, protecting them early in life. That protection improves greatly when women get certain vaccines before and during pregnancy. They also may not realize getting vaccinated right after pregnancy can stop the spread of illnesses.  


Out of the Shadows - 09/04/2019

Lubbock physicians shine a light on sex trafficking and get victims needed care.


Clearing the Air on Cannabis: New Texas Laws Create Challenges for Physicians - 09/03/2019

Before the 2019 Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3703, the medical use of cannabidiol (CBD) products in Texas was confusing for physicians and authorized only a narrow group of patients: people with intractable epilepsy. Thanks in part to the new state law, it’s still confusing and includes a somewhat larger group of patients – all patients with epilepsy as well as those with seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autism, terminal cancer, and incurable neurodegenerative diseases. Confusion has been fueled by another 2019 measure: House Bill 1325 legalized the production and sale of hemp and some products derived from hemp that have high levels of CBD, which is non-euphoric and has low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), the psychoactive element in marijuana.


Tying Immigration to Medicaid Foolish, TMA President Says - 08/20/2019

The Trump Administration's new rule seeking to limit access to green cards for immigrants who receive Medicaid and other government benefits will discourage people from seeing their physicians, worsening medical problems and harming public health, says Texas Medical Association President David C. Fleeger, MD.


TMA Supports Evidence-Based Care for LGBTQ Youth - 08/20/2019

The Texas Medical Association aggressively opposes any "potentially harmful, unproven therapies," such as conversion therapy, that are designed to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ young people, TMA President David Fleeger, MD, said in prepared testimony to the Texas Medical Board on Friday.


Talk to Patients About: Hib - 08/12/2019

Talk to your patients about Haemophilus influenzae type b – or Hib, which, despite its name, does not cause influenza. However, Hib causes several severe illnesses, particularly meningitis, mostly in children younger than 5.


New Laws Improve Opioid Prescription Process in Texas - 08/06/2019

The 2019 Texas Legislature enacted three new laws that will change the way physicians prescribe opioids, including House Bill 3284, which delays the mandate for physicians check the state’s prescription monitoring program, known as PMP Aware, for prescriptions tied to opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and carisoprodol. The bill pushes back the requirement from Sept. 1, 2019, to March 1, 2020.