“Fight the Good Fight”: Fleeger Awarded TMA’s Highest Honor
By Joey Berlin


For his confident leadership during difficult times, and his longtime advocacy for medicine at both the state and national levels, the Texas Medical Association bestowed its highest honor upon Austin colon and rectal surgeon David C. Fleeger, MD.  

Calling on his fellow physicians to speak up and stand up for their patients and colleagues, Dr. Fleeger accepted the Distinguished Service Award on Saturday at TexMed 2022 in Houston. 

“I don’t really consider what I have done all that distinguished,” Dr. Fleeger told TMA’s House of Delegates during his acceptance speech at the Hilton Americas-Houston. “I think of myself as a doc in the trenches just trying to see patients every day, doing what you do.” 

Dr. Fleeger’s impressive list of leadership positions includes stints as president of the Travis County Medical Society; presiding officer of the board of directors for the Texas Health Services Authority, which oversees the electronic exchange of health information in Texas; and TMA president during 2019-20, when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the final months of his term. 

In presenting the award, Bruce Malone, MD, touted Dr. Fleeger’s work as TMA president during the early days of the pandemic, when he helped physicians obtain the personal protective equipment they needed to stay safe while keeping their offices functioning. Dr. Fleeger gave the public leadership that let them know medicine would still be there for them during those tough times, Dr. Malone said. 

“Throughout his career, people have sought David out to lead,” he added. “And he has done each task assigned to him with a calm resolve to advocate for his patients and the profession.” 

Dr. Fleeger stressed some of the duties that physicians have as professionals, including their mandate to advocate for patients and doctors “in the Capitol halls” of both Austin and Washington, D.C. 

“We need to make sure our elected officials understand that the wealthiest nation on Earth should be able to provide a sound baseline of care to even the poorest of its citizens,” he said. “It is unethical for them to rely on our devotion to our patients to absorb the cost of care to the unfunded.  

“We have an obligation to stand up to the insurance companies that put profits above patient. We have an obligation to stand up to hospital systems and physician employers that would put patients at risk under the false flag of quality and value. As professionals, we have an obligation to be lifelong learners and to advance the science of medicine. This means standing against those who would put unfounded beliefs before science and truth.” 

Dr. Fleeger said he was honored and humbled to receive the award and encouraged his fellow physicians to “fight the good fight.” 

“At no time in my career have I been prouder of our physicians,” he added. “Over the last two years the men and women of our profession stood up and fulfilled their professional obligation to serve their patients in the face of uncertainty and possible death. Indeed, some of our colleagues lost their lives in the service of their patients. They should always be remembered.” 


Last Updated On

May 01, 2022

Originally Published On

May 01, 2022

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