President's Message

August 2020

Robert Hancock, DO, FACEP

As I look back over the past 7 months, I think about how much our lives as emergency physicians have changed. Who would have thought we would be fighting a virus, public misinformation, conspiracy theories, and pay reduction. We have smoothly transitioned into practicing in an environment where PPE is mandatory but in short supply. An environment where initially bringing your own PPE could result in disciplinary action for some. TCEP has worked tirelessly to address all of these issues and lobbied heavily for a safe, efficient work environment for all Texas emergency physicians.

The reduction in work hours and pay have created substantial stress for many you, and TCEP heard your calls for help. TCEP partnered with a PR firm with the initial goal of getting the word out to people that ED’s are safe and that nobody should delay emergency care out of fear. This partnership has resulted in multiple media opportunities to directly address our patients and their families. ( Additionally, TCEP members in conjunction with our PR firm have been able to publish opinion editorials in large newspapers throughout the state of Texas. As our many followers have seen, we have been utilizing social media to further spread our “don’t delay care” message. This is working and I have no doubt lives have been saved because of this! Additionally, ED volumes have improved, work hours have improved, and our pay has stabilized.

TCEP along with TAPA have lobbied heavily for increased liability protection related to COVID-19 patient care. It quickly became evident that this was unlikely to occur on the state level. Therefore, we have been working with Senator John Cornyn’s office to give further information about how COVID-19 has affected the care of all patients and not just those with the disease. We have given multiple examples of how current restrictions and regulations make it almost impossible to meet the old standard of care. Senator Cornyn heard our concerns and crafted a bill which would have offered federal liability protection. Unfortunately, this bill is currently stalled amid negotiations in Congress. I remain optimistic that some type of federal liability protection for COVID-19 will be passed. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of TAPA and TCEP, emergency physicians in Texas already benefit from the best medical malpractice environment in the country. Advocacy is one of the reasons many of you belong to TCEP.  A lot of this work is done year round, by dedicated volunteer members and our legislative team.  We need to grow our bench of members who will help with grassroots lobbying.

In closing, I want to discuss the most important issue for emergency physicians amid this pandemic: physician mental and physical wellness. Many of us have faced situations and stresses that were above and beyond anything previously experienced. While at work, most of us continued as the stabilizing figure in the emergency department. We said “this is what we trained for” and “we got this”, and both of these were true. Then you leave work and you have deal with some difficult memories and frustrations. Many of us internalize this and then deal with it in unhealthy ways. It is incredibly important for everyone to be honest with yourself and seek help if you are struggling. ( )

Some of you may just need to talk to another emergency physician away from your practice, and my door is always open. If any of you need anything or just want to talk to a colleague, please call the TCEP office and we will do everything we can to help. Remember, TCEP is your organization, and I am honored to have the opportunity to lead your organization. STAY SAFE!