TxCOEM Times
Fall 2017 Newsletter


We are pleased to provide you with this update of our activities and truly want to engage all of you in TxCOEM's future. Please take a moment to review the Newsletter, which should be a regular publication.  

  • Your officers have completed reincorporating TXCOEM as a nonprofit organization. This allows us to do things like maintain finances and provide CME. 
  • Our website is being redesigned. Unfortunately, our developer had ceased supporting our site and so we are working with a new one. The website is critical for giving us a "presence" in the world and for communicating with all of you.  
  • There is a Strategic Review Committee that is focused on enhancing the value of membership. Their project is discussed elsewhere in this newsletter. 
  • Planning for the 2018 Annual TxCOEM Syposium is in progress. A request for proposals is forthcoming.

Jim Kelaher, MD,MPH
President, TxCOEM

TxCOEM Officers 

"Jim" James E. Kelaher, MD, MPH

Sebastian Ciacchella, MD, MPH, FACOEM

Vice President
Tufail Shaikh, MD
The TxCOEM bank balance was $20,866.76 as of 10/31/2017

TXCOEM Strategic Review Committee (SRC)

The Strategic Review Committee was formed by the TXCOEM membership at the annual meeting held in May, 2017. The stated purpose was to review the current value proposition to the TXCOEM members to gather insights on declining membership.

SRC Members:

Faiyaz Bhojani, MD, DrPH, FACOEM Faiyaz.Bhojani@shell.com

Arch "Chip" Carson, MD, PhD

Jeffrey Levin, MD, MSPH

William "Brett" Perkison, MD, MPH, FACOEM

C. David Rowlett, MD, MS, FACOEM

Purpose of the meeting
Reenergize TXCOEM to be a meaningful & valued organization for its members, which in turn would inspire a robust membership and a renewed sense of camaraderie and purpose.

For purposes of a strategic review and recommendation, members of the SRC agreed to be fully open and constructively critical in their comments and observations. It was also agreed to not attribute specific comments to individuals.
TxCOEM Membership

Need to renew your membership? 
Contact Member Services at
MemberInfo@ACOEM.org  or 847-818-1800
New Member: Interested in joining for the first time? 
Join online at  www.ACOEM.org
Click About ACOEM and then click Join Today

TxCOEM communications to Michelle McDaniel, Executive Assistant, TxCOEM
TXCOEM@uth.tmc.edu  or 713-500-9447


Opioids Crisis

"President Donald J. Trump on Oct. 26 declared a public health emergency and outlined several actions his administration is taking and will take to address the opioids crisis, including new requirements from the Food and Drug Administration on the manufacturers of prescription opioids to help reverse over-prescribing.
The White House's description of the actions notes that drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, outnumbering both traffic crashes and gun-related deaths, and the estimated 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 represent a rate of 175 deaths per day and exceed the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War."  Article Link 
Obesity among Hospital Employees

Seventy-eight percent of employees at Houston hospitals are overweight or obese, according to a study by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health.
Employees from six hospitals across Houston, with the exception of physicians, were invited to participate in a survey about their health status and diet in 2012. A total of 924 employees responded to the survey, most of whom classified themselves as hospital administrators or technicians.
According to the results, there was no significant difference in the intake of fruits and vegetables among normal weight, overweight and obese participants, which was generally low across all groups. However, as compared to those of normal weight, obese participants had significantly higher daily consumption of white potatoes such as French fries, regular fat foods (versus reduced or low fat), sugary beverages and added butter and margarine.
Overall, most participants in the study led a sedentary lifestyle. Sixty-five percent of participants reported no days of vigorous physical activity and 48 percent reported no days of moderate physical activity.
"It's not just about what you don't do or don't eat. Behaviors have an additive effect -- obesity can happen not just because you didn't eat enough fruits and vegetables, but because you also ate more fried foods and foods that are higher in fat; and not just because you weren't very active, but also because you were sedentary more often," said research investigator Sharma.
Shreela V. Sharma, Mudita Upadhyaya, Mandar Karhade, William B. Baun, William B. Perkison, Lisa A. Pompeii, Henry S. Brown, Deanna M. Hoelscher.   Are Hospital Workers Healthy?  Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine , 2016; 58 (12): 1231.  Article Link
High Risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Commercial Drivers

Analysis of pooled data from 16 studies suggested that 41% of commercial drivers may have OSA - nearly twice as high as for non-obese men in the general population. Further analysis of a select group of studies estimated a 35% rate of mild OSA in commercial drivers and a 12% rate of moderate to severe OSA.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition, but little is known about possible occupational factors associated with it. The researchers suggest that commercial drivers may have other OSA risk factors, including stress, high rates of obesity and high blood pressure, and abnormal sleep/wake schedules. Regardless of the other factors involved, daytime sleepiness and other OSA symptoms may be associated with an increased risk of accidents.
Further studies are needed to clarify possible occupational associations with OSA. Dr. Blanc and colleagues conclude, "Pending more definitive data, clinicians should take into account occupational factors in considering sleep disorders and OSA, which carry significant associated costs from comorbidities and occupational disability."
Schwartz DA, Vinnikov D, Blanc PD. Occupation and Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Meta-Analysis.
J Occup Environ Med . 2017;59(6):502-8.  Article Link
Save the Date for TxCOEM 2018

TxCOEM Annual Symposium at TexMed   

May 19, 2018
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort
San Antonio, TX

Registration begins January 2018. 
Announcement will be emailed to you!
Nominations for Marcus Key Award to TxCOEM@uth.tmc.edu

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE:  Do you use these terms correctly? 

Medical screening and Medical surveillance
Medical screening is a method for early detection and treatment of a potential disease or condition in people with no known sign and symptoms of that disease or condition. Thus, screening has a clinical focus.
Medical surveillance is the periodic collection and analysis of health information data in order to identify problems that may be occurring in the workplace that require prevention and to evaluate effectiveness of existing prevention and intervention program. Thus, it is used in a broader context than screening. It is followed by intervention steps, aimed at improving the work environment to ensure health and safety of workers.
Fitness for duty and Return to work
Fitness for duty is the general term applied to assess whether an employee is able to perform essential job functions. It may be required at pre-placement or during the course of employment .
Return to work is the term usually applied to fitness for duty when a current employee has been absent from work for injury or illness and there is a reasonable belief that the employee's ability to perform essential job functions will be impaired by the medical condition.
Risk and Exposure
Risk is the probability or likelihood that an event will occur, e.g. that an individual will become ill or die within a stated period of time. For instance, the estimated annual occupational risk of HIV transmission is 0.27% for healthcare workers.

Exposure is any characteristic, event or agent, a person comes in contact with that could possibly affect the risk of developing of disease. Exposure is a dynamic process that varies from person to person, depending on behavior, location, and from one type of exposure to another. For example, exposure to loud noise increases risk of hearing loss among workers.

Modified and Transitional duty
Light duty, modified duty and transitional duty are all often used synonymously because of their common goal to return the injured employee to work as soon as possible. However, in a stricter sense:

Modified Duty means the employee can return to his/her usual and customary job with some modifications. For example, an employee after a neck strain is allowed to return to work with limitation of doing keyboard work no more than 2 hours a day. 
Transitional Duty m eans the employee can no longer perform his/her usual and customary job because of medical restrictions. Therefore, the employee is given temporary transitional tasks until able to return to his/her regular job. For example, a warehouse worker with severe back strain may return to work temporarily doing a record keeping job.   
Impairment and Disability
Impairment is a loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure or function" (WHO). Impairments are conditions that interfere with an individual's activities of daily living", such as self-care and personal hygiene, standing and sitting and social and work activities as the result of disease, illness, or injury.
Disability is any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of the ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being" (WHO). A disabled person is a person with an impairment who experiences disability. In other words, it is an alteration of an individual's capacity to meet personal, social, or occupational demands, because of an impairment. 

Upcoming Meetings & Events

April 29 - May 02, 2018
Hilton New Orleans Riverside in 
New Orleans, LA

TxCOEM Annual Symposium at TexMed (TxCOEM 2018)
May 19, 2018
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort  in San Antonio, TX
Registration Information upcoming January 2018
Please send nominations for Marcus Key Award to TxCOEM@uth.tmc.edu

TxCOEM | About Us | 713-500-9447 | TxCOEM@uth.tmc.edu