Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Healthy Dose of New Laws

From bills that strengthen vaccines’ potential to bills that prevent maternal and infant death, the 83rd Texas legislative session introduced a healthy dose of new laws to reduce illness and save lives. Here’s a look at several public health bills signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry last week:

  • Teenagers who are pregnant or already parents now can consent for their own vaccinations under Senate Bill 63 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Rep. J.D. Sheffield, MD (R-Gatesville). The new law helps to ensure everyone around babies, including their own parents, do not pass on influenza or pertussis or other vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Child care centers now must have a vaccination policy in place for their workers to prevent babies and young children in their care from getting sick. “Like health care workers, these adults experience high exposure to bacteria and viruses,” said Keller pediatrician Jason V. Terk, MD. “Unvaccinated child care workers pose a risk to the children in their care. Senate Bill 64 by Senator Nelson and Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), is a balanced and fair approach that does not encroach on anyone’s personal liberty but rather encourages the best protection of vulnerable children.”
  • A new task force consisting of physicians, nurses, and community advocates will study female morbidity and mortality from pregnancy-related causes with Senate Bill 495 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston) signed into law. The task force findings will seek to identify complications for women and make recommendations for the reduction of these cases. The mortality rate in Texas is increasing; more than 100 Texas women die each year as a result of pregnancy or childbearing.
  • Texas hospitals now are required to screen newborns for critical congenital heart defects, life-threatening conditions affecting more than 550 babies per year in Texas under House Bill 740 by Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton) and Sen. Bob Deuell, MD (R-Greenville).  “Appropriate screening for critical congenital heart conditions can lead to earlier diagnosis and better outcomes for Texas infants,” said Houston neonatologist and the Texas Medical Association’s immediate past-president, Michael Speer, MD.

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