The Texas Newborn Screening Program requires that two specimens be collected from each newborn. A small amount of blood is taken from the newborn’s heel at 24 to 48 hours after birth, and a second specimen is collected at one to two weeks after birth. The state’s public health laboratory analyzes the screens.
As of 2019, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) laboratory screens for 53 conditions using blood samples. (Texas hospitals and birthing facilities are mandated to screen for congenital hearing loss and critical congenital heart disease.) For details, refer to the latest list of disorders in the Texas newborn screening panel. As of January 2019, the cost of the newborn screening kit is now $55.24. The cost is adjusted as new tests are added to the kit. The HCPCS code for billing the newborn screening kit is S3620.
For frequently asked questions about the newborn screening program, refer to the state lab’s FAQs on specimen collection and billing. TMA members who experience billing and coding problems can submit complaints to the Hassle Factor Log or contact the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955.
Storing Newborn Screening Data
DSHS started saving newborn screening samples in 2002. The deidentified samples are stored for quality assurance purposes and for their potential value in approved research to find new or more effective ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat diseases. The agency keeps the blood spot cards in a secure place. By Texas law (Health and Safety Code Sec. 33.018), the blood spots may be used until DSHS is required to destroy them pursuant to parental directive (or destroys them pursuant to agency records retention policy).
Permissible uses are:
- DSHS and external quality assurance to make sure tests, equipment, and supplies are working right;
- Development of new tests; and
- DSHS studies of diseases that affect public health.
Additionally, with parent permission, blood spots collected on or after June 1, 2012, may be used for public health research outside DSHS. Blood spots used outside DSHS will not include any information that can identify the child or parent, unless the parent provides a separate, specific consent.
DSHS storage of residual blood spots is governed by Texas law as detailed below:
Received by DSHS prior to May 27, 2009
- Blood spots received by DSHS prior to May 27, 2009, for which written consent to retain was not given, have all been destroyed.
Specimen Collected May 27, 2009 through May 31, 2012
Specimen Collected June 1, 2012 or Later
- All blood spots are stored for up to 2 years and then destroyed unless the parent submits a completed Parental Decision form allowing for longer storage.
DSHS maintains a website with the latest instructions, training videos, and clinical information related to newborn screening.
ACT Sheets – Action plans for all disorders that include immediate steps for physicians.