Blog

TMA President: Stay Vigilant Against COVID-19 - 06/24/2020

In many parts of our state, COVID-19 is making a terrifyingly strong return. Hospitals are activating surge plans to make room for more seriously ill patients – whether with COVID-19, other diseases, or significant trauma. If we don’t handle this correctly, the consequences will be severe for us, our patients, and large swaths of the Texas health care system.


Nearly 600 – and Counting – U.S. Health Workers have Died of COVID-19 - 06/16/2020

Nearly 600 front-line health care workers appear to have died of COVID-19, according to Lost on the Frontline, a project launched by The Guardian and Kaiser Health News that aims to count, verify and memorialize every health care worker who dies during the pandemic.


Telemedicine: What We Learned During the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond - 05/29/2020

On March 18, as the COVID- 19 crisis accelerated, we converted overnight to “seeing” our patients by video. Our journey into telemedicine was abrupt, and there was a steep learning curve. Our practitioners have a number of interesting, and sometimes humorous, stories to tell.


COVID-19 Doesn’t Have to Be Mentally Overwhelming - 05/20/2020

The COVID-19 can take its toll on you and your colleagues. To help give you some perspective – as well as some insight and tips – into taking care of your own mental well-being, the Texas Medical Association reached out to Austin psychiatrist and internal medicine physician Thomas Kim, MD, who spoke at length about what causes stress and ways to overcome it.


Physician Pioneer Had Early Grasp on Importance of Handwashing - 05/18/2020

Lindsey Fitzharris, a medical historian, penned an article in the March (19,) 2020 Wall Street Journal entitled “The Unsung Pioneer of Handwashing” that described a 19th century physician’s effort to convince the medical society of his day that germs were the cause of the death from what was called childbed or puerperal fever.


Serology Testing to Play Key Role in Many Aspects of COVID-19 Pandemic - 04/17/2020

Over the past few weeks, I have grown increasingly concerned about the current offering of serology testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. Given the lack of clear guidance surrounding the issues of serology testing, particularly given the unique issues around the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, I feel compelled to write this message.


I Won’t Take the Nurse Practitioners’ Bait - 04/09/2020

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is obviously intent on picking a fight with physicians. No thanks. We’ll take the high road, fully aware of the dangers of their plans, and stick with what we know is best for our patients: the physician-led health care team.


Your Financial Defense in the War Against COVID-19 - 04/08/2020

Your Texas Medical Association has been working feverishly to compile and consolidate the tools necessary for medical practices to survive this pandemic and return to strength in the future. Our COVID-19 Practice Viability Tool Kit will help physicians negotiate the byzantine Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.


COVID-19: A Chance for Health Care Revolution - 04/03/2020

What every health care professional is thinking during the COVID-19 pandemic: Science can no longer be used as a political pawn.


Immediate Changes Needed for Physicians to Stay in Business During the Pandemic - 04/02/2020

The CARES Act offers much-needed help to the acute needs of hospitals and the medical supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic. This aid will facilitate the production of critical supplies such as ventilators and PPE (personal protective equipment). The law failed to consider the needs of the doctors who will run the ventilators and wear the masks.


Practicing Self-Care 2.0 During These Stressful Times - 04/01/2020

If you want to improve your mental and physical well-being during these uncertain times, the following changes might be helpful.


Becoming a Better Physician ”Thanks” to Cancer - 03/24/2020

Having undergone the trials of being a patient awith a 'spiculated lung nodule,' I pray that we physicians remain vigilant in protecting our patients.


In the War Against COVID-19, Physicians Need Proper Armor Now - 03/23/2020

The battle already has begun. We have no time to wait. In a letter to Governor Abbott today, I urged that all personal protective equipment (PPE) from all non-health care industries be diverted to our current fight, by any means necessary. I told him, point blank, that the current shortage of PPE in Texas is unacceptable.


Making Prescribing Less Painful for Physicians - 02/15/2020

I won’t be surprised if physicians around the state are feeling a little angst and anger over the coming March 1 requirement for physicians to check the Texas prescription monitoring program (PMP) before writing prescriptions for opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and carisoprodol. I don’t fault them one bit. This is just one more administrative burden placed on physicians. But I want all of you to understand just how much worse it would have been without the intervention of the Texas Medical Association.


Beyond Burnout: Docs Decry Moral Injury From Financial Pressures of Health Care - 02/14/2020

A growing number of physicians, nurses, social workers and other clinicians are using the phrase “moral injury” to describe their inner struggles at work. The term comes from war: It was first used to explain why military veterans were not responding to standard treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.


A Plan for the Uninsured in Texas - 02/05/2020

I call for our TMA to bring all of these groups together to directly address the issue of the uninsured in Texas, to plan a strategy, and to put it in motion.


The Math of Medicare for All - 01/09/2020

With two of the current top Democratic candidates – Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) – espousing Medicare for All, supporters and detractors alike are asking more in-depth questions about the proposal, particularly how much it will cost.


Why I am Hopeful for Health Care (And You Should Be, Too) - 01/03/2020

The positivity, professionalism, and commitment demonstrated by my masters of health administration students leaves me with a confident outlook for American medicine.


Electronic Health Records: The Dream vs. the Reality - 12/27/2019

The only way forward with electronic health records is to continue to improve the system we have, but to do so with a vigor we have not expended to date. We need a significant increase in federal funding and to draw the best minds in technology to build a fully integrated system. We need significant input from physicians and nurses to create EHRs that are intuitive, efficient, and reliable.


Don’t Let it Happen to You: Practice Fined Over Social Media - 12/09/2019

As more people go online to research products and services, online reputation management has become increasingly relevant for physicians.Because of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, physicians cannot respond to online reviews in any way that reveals PHI. Even if a patient discloses their own personal information in a review, physicians cannot respond with the same level of disclosure.


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.


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.


Beyond the Slogan “Medicare for All” - 10/03/2019

Medicare For All is becoming popular among Democratic lawmakers and the public. But, as popular as the concept is, the details are lost in the simple slogan of “Medicare for All.”


An Insurance Company Auditor Tried to Destroy My Career - 09/16/2019

It didn’t matter that the charges against me were ludicrous. The potential consequences were only too real, and potentially catastrophic. Had the State Medical Board decided against me, I could have lost my license. I hired a lawyer, sinking more than $8,000 into legal fees. I was cleared by a unanimous committee vote. But other physicians facing similar situations may not be as lucky.


Texans Not Afraid to Look Up Mental Health Concerns Online - 08/22/2019

Although you as a physician might not spend a lot of time consulting Dr. Google, many of your patients do. So it’s a good idea to know what people are most worried about. Turns out, “phobia” is the most-Googled mental health concern in Texas.