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Monday, October 20, 2014


We received the good news this morning that the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has cleared Thomas Duncan’s first 43 Ebola contacts in Dallas after 21 days passed with no signs or symptoms. Local, state, and federal public health officials continue to monitor 120 people for the disease. Texans, however, remain concerned and worried about the outbreak. You can learn the latest about Texas’ Ebola response and how to protect you and your staff by participating in TMA’s Tele-Town Hall meeting tonight. TMA physician experts and Department of State Health Services’ leaders will be on hand to answer your questions from 7 to 8 pm. TMA and the Texas Nursing Association are cohosting the meeting. We will call you directly at your home phone number. All you need to do is pick up the phone and stay on the line. If you don’t want to participate, just hang up. If you can’t make the call and want to hear what was discussed, please go to TMA’s Ebola Virus Resource Center. A recording of the meeting will be posted Tuesday. This event is the latest in the series of TMA activities to keep Texas physicians and the public informed about the science of the Dallas Ebola crisis. They include: 
  • Protect Yourself From the Ebola Virus — an easy-to-understand patient flyer, in English and in Spanish, that we developed in conjunction with the Dallas County Medical Society (DCMS).
  • What if Someone Walks Into My Office With Ebola? — science-based guidelines to prepare your practice and protect your staff and patients if someone presents with Ebola symptoms.
  • “Facts, Not Fear” — an outstanding town hall meeting that DCMS hosted with WFAA-TV. Watch the replay.
  •  TMA’s Ebola Virus Resource Center — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DSHS, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Dallas County Health and Human Services have issued numerous bulletins, guidelines, and other materials to help you respond to the Ebola outbreak. We organize them for your ease of use.


Early voting in the Nov. 4 general election starts today and runs through Friday, Oct. 31. Here’s a few reasons for you to head to the polls in this nonpresidential-election year:
  • One candidate for the Texas Senate says physicians want to “administer life-ending procedures” to our patients! Really.
  • Other, more medicine-friendly, candidates have pledged to help us cut government regulations on our practices, boost public health, increase funding for graduate medical education, and protect our tort reforms.
TEXPAC recommends these outstanding candidates on your ballot. In most counties, you may cast an early ballot at any election site. On Nov. 4, you may vote only at your home precinct.


Texas physicians and TMA are under an unprecedented attack. Candidates and special interest groups on both the left and the right, leveraging social media, are striving to undermine your authority and the patient-physician relationship. TMA President Austin King, MD, met with senior TMA staff to work on our ongoing strategy to counter the assault. It’s terribly important that we succeed, not only to protect your professional dignity as physicians but also to ensure that TMA can continue to win big victories for medicine at the Capitol. As we move forward, we will be asking for you — medicine’s leaders — to help us get the word out about our science-based dedication to patients and health. Today, though, I’m asking you to help us develop a slogan or tagline for this campaign. What does medicine really stand for? Send me your ideas. 


At the invitation of TMA Board of Trustees member Doug Curran, MD, chief lobbyist Darren Whitehurst and I travelled to Athens to meet with the Henderson County Medical Society. We reviewed Healthy Vision 2020 and our 2015 legislative priorities. If you want Dr. King or a member of the TMA staff to speak to your county medical society, contact our Ambassador Program.


Only 31 percent of U.S. physicians — and slightly fewer in Texas — say they are free to make what they consider to be the best decisions for their patients, according to The Physicians Foundation’s 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians. About 53 percent in both Texas and nationwide said they have some limitations in their clinical autonomy. But nearly 18 percent of Texas physicians and 15 percent of those across the country said, “My decisions often are compromised.” TMA and The Physicians Foundation are working to educate the public and policymakers on both the causes and the implications of this troubling trend so that we can begin to reverse it.


Thanks to your collective efforts, TMA’s Hard Hats for Little Heads is putting more than 6,000 helmets on Texas children in October. That’s the most helmets we’ve ever given in one month. TMA declared October as Hard Hats for Little Heads Month to mark the program’s 20th birthday and to celebrate 20 years of keeping kids safe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Four days after the death of the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, someone who helped to care for him in a Dallas hospital has apparently become the first person to acquire the disease in this country. The New York Times is reporting that the person is a female nurse at the hospital. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, MD, said the nurse wore the appropriate protective clothing and equipment while caring for the first patient, but she became infected due to a “breach of protocol.” None of the 48 original known contacts of the first patient has shown any symptoms, Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey, MD, said on Sunday. Dallas County Medical Society (DCMS) President Todd Pollock, MD, and John Carlo, MD, chair of the DCMS Community Emergency Response Committee, urged calm. “DCMS physicians have long been trusted community leaders and have a long history of responding to many public health issues, from organizing Dallas’ participation as a field test site for the Salk polio vaccine in 1945, to leading the county’s response to the West Nile Virus epidemic in 2012,” they said in a Sunday night email to Dallas doctors. “Physicians are one of society’s most trusted voices, so it is imperative that we speak up and contribute to the conversation using factual information based on medical science.” In that vein, we offer the following resources: