Magazine story

Taking Privacy to a New Level: Texas Lowers Reporting Threshold for Security Breaches - 01/27/2020

Federal requirements have not changed, but starting Jan. 1, breach notification requirements will become even more stringent for Texas physicians or medical entities. The Texas Legislature dropped the threshold for breach reporting from 500 patients to 250. House Bill 4390 also requires medical entities to report breaches to the Texas attorney general’s office within 60 days of the breach.


Talk to Patients About: Why Do Some Vaccinated People Still Get Sick? - 01/24/2020

Every so often, physicians encounter a patient who still gets sick despite getting vaccinated against that disease. Patients naturally ask, how could this happen? There are various reasons.


Q&A: Stethoscopes and Telescopes - 01/24/2020

Ever since he was a boy, Temple family physician John Manning, MD, has been fascinated by space. Now, Dr. Manning is also an amateur photographer. About 10 years ago, he merged his interests in photography and space into his latest obsession: astrophotography.


Reaching for the Cure: Texas Medicaid Doesn't Cover Hepatitis C Drugs Until Patients Are Seriously Ill - 01/23/2020

Infectious disease specialist Ogechika Alozie, MD, has a ready-made solution for patients diagnosed with hepatitis C now that five medications can rid patients of this deadly disease. But for Texas Medicaid patients, there’s a catch. The program does not pay for the cure based just on a diagnosis. Instead, Medicaid pays only after a blood test, biopsy, or sonogram shows the liver is so badly damaged that it’s on the verge of cirrhosis. At that point, patients who get the medication will be cured of their hepatitis C but more vulnerable to other deadly illnesses, like liver cancer.


Doctor on the Set: Surgical Resident Thrives in Hollywood - 01/15/2020

About two years ago, Michael Metzner, MD, took a break from his San Antonio surgical residency program for what was supposed to be a year-long gig in the bright lights of Hollywood. He hasn’t come back. He says he will … just not quite yet.


Not Seeing Eye to Eye: Physician Employment of Optometrists Tested - 01/15/2020

A state board’s concerns over stopping conflicts of interest and a physician’s right to employ and delegate treatment to other professionals are colliding head-on. Now, it’s up to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to sort out what, in his view, the state’s optometry law allows.


Preserving Do No Harm: Supreme Court Tosses Challenge to Medical Ethics Committee Law. - 01/15/2020

Twenty years after it took effect, Texas’ medical ethics committee review law has withstood challenge after challenge. The Texas Supreme Court is on the verge of ending the latest high-profile attack on the law that ensures physicians can uphold their professional obligation to “do no harm.” In October 2019, the state’s high court declined to take up Kelly v. Houston Methodist Hospital, in which the mother of a deceased patient attempted to overturn a provision of the Texas Advance Directives Act. Justices’ action leaves intact an appeals court decision that preserves physicians’ ability to use their medical judgment in end-of-life cases.


Appropriate Use of Time? Medicare Rules for Advanced Imaging Orders Pose Prior-Auth Burdens - 01/15/2020

An effective way to cut down on overuse of potentially harmful imaging, or a prior authorization-esque burden on physicians who order needed tests? Texas physicians see Medicare’s “appropriate use” system for advanced imaging both ways. As of Jan. 1, physicians ordering advanced imaging tests for Medicare patients must consult an electronic portal, which evaluates whether the test meets Medicare’s own “appropriate use criteria” for whether a test should be ordered. Then when the claim is filed, physicians must document that they checked the system and its determination.


Clearing the Haze: Texas Physicians Demystify Vaping - 01/15/2020

The rise in EVALI deaths and hospitalizations has changed the conversation about vaping and gives physicians an opportunity to champion tighter rules and higher taxes on an untested, unhealthy product that remains lightly regulated in both the U.S. and Texas.


Left In The Dust: Helping Underreporting of Workplace Illnesses - 01/09/2020

Workplace illnesses can be difficult for physicians and patients because some take years to develop and frequently are masked or mimicked by other illnesses. Such a disease may not show itself until decades after the patient has left the job that caused the problem. By then, the illness may be so far along that little can be done. That time lag between exposure and illness is just one of several difficulties Texas physicians face in tackling workplace illnesses. Because Texas does not have a federally-approved plan for developing and enforcing workplace health and safety standards, the state defers to OSHA on this responsibility.


Finally Settled: Hospitals Settle Physician's Anti-Competition Lawsuit - 01/08/2020

A Laredo oncologist confidentially settled a years-long lawsuit involving a pair of hospitals he alleged mischaracterized a past legal misfortune to terminate his privileges and eliminate his clinic from competing with the facilities.


The Journal of Texas Medicine - 01/08/2020

As of 2020, the Texas Medical Association no longer publishes unsolicited, peer-reviewed, clinical journal articles in Texas Medicine magazine. However, TMA invites members to contribute their thoughts, ideas, and opinions to TMA's publications.     


Texas Medicine Magazine - 01/07/2020

Texas Medicine Magazine


Texas Medicine Back Issues - 01/02/2020

Back Issues


Breaking Down Barriers: New State Effort Helps Get LARCs to Women Who Need Them - 01/02/2020

In November 2019, HHSC named boosting the use of LARCs as goal No. 1 for improving the health of women and children. The announcement came when HHSC released its first-ever annual business plan, “Blueprint for a Healthy Texas.”


An Injury to Justice: Workers' Comp Disputes Could Tilt in Insurers' Favor - 01/02/2020

Medicine is working to upend a recent appeals court decision that threatens to give health plans an overwhelming advantage in fee disputes in workers compensation cases.


Supporting Fair APM Payments: AMA Backs Accounting for Social Determinants of Health - 01/02/2020

Alternative payment models (APMs) are considered a key part of the future of value-based care. But for them to be successful, the American Medical Association says, APMs need to be fair, which means adjusting for the circumstances that make physicians’ cost and care challenges unique.


Q&A: Physician Podcaster Jeffrey Jarvis, MD - 01/02/2020

A love of teaching is what propelled Jeffrey Jarvis, MD, into his latest undertaking: hosting a nationally distributed podcast.


An Unfair Game: Quality Payment Program Rules Still Stacked Against Physicians - 01/02/2020

What the Quality Payment Program (QPP) lacks in simplicity, it makes up for in deck-stacking. After three years of physician participation, Medicare’s quality program to drive value-based care continues to generate confusion, frustration, and worry that it’s only going to swallow up more physicians in its complex and financially punitive gameplay.


Best of Both Worlds: Surgical Resident, Grey’s Anatomy Consultant Blends the Arts and Medicine - 12/17/2019

San Antonio surgical resident Michael Metzner, MD, blends his passions for the arts and medicine as a Grey’s Anatomy consultant.


Out of Physicians' Hands: TMA Challenges Unfair Quality Measures on Medication Adherence - 12/04/2019

Only patients can pick up their own prescriptions, and only patients can propel that medication into their own bodies. Physicians can educate, emphasize, and admonish – but at the end of the day, they can’t restrain and “pill” a squirming, uncooperative patient like a dog or cat. It’s up to patients to do the right thing for themselves. Yet, some health plans’ quality programs are putting that onus on physicians – through medication adherence metrics that determine whether physicians and accountable care organizations (ACOs) in value-based contracts receive bonus payments.


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.


Talk to Patients About: How Vaccines Work - 12/04/2019

Ignorance is a well-known cause of vaccine hesitancy. Physicians can step into that void to teach patients about what vaccines are and why they’re important. That includes information about the risks and benefits of vaccines, how quickly illnesses spread, and the symptoms and complications of natural infection.


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.


Know Your ADA Obligations - 12/04/2019

If someone asked you about your training on federal requirements for accommodating patients with disabilities, would your answer sound something like this? “Oh golly. I have no idea. I’m sure I had to read or study something sometime. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been a doctor for quite a while, so I suspect I had to learn it somewhere, but I don’t remember where.” That’s an actual answer from one internal medicine physician in a recent study of doctors’ knowledge of their legal obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). And if the results of that small study are any indication, many physicians might be lacking in their knowledge on the subject.