Recent News

SBIRT in the office now covered by Texas Medicaid

Texas Health Steps providers can be reimbursed for using Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) during Texas Health Steps checkups for patients 10 through 20 years of age. SBIRT is an evidenced-based three-part strategy to reduce adolescent substance use.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and U.S Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommend universal screening for substance use as part of routine adolescent care.

Learn more in our informative Quick Course. Additional training is required in order to claim reimbursement for SBIRT.

Toolkit guides development of LARC programs to improve birth outcomes

The new Texas Long-acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) Toolkit is aimed at helping providers increase the availability of LARCs to all Texas women.

LARC is a highly effective contraceptive option with high rates of patient satisfaction and method continuation. Texas has made improving access to LARCs a priority.

The new Toolkit offers suggestions and resources to support implementation of a policy to make LARCs available to adolescents and women throughout the reproductive life cycle, including prior to the first pregnancy, during the postpartum period (both during the hospital stay and at the postpartum visit), and whenever family planning services are received.

CDC urges pediatricians to take precautions to prevent antibiotic-resistant infections

Pediatricians and other health-care providers should bolster efforts to prevent antibiotic-resistant infections, according to a Health Alert Network advisory issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The advisory was issued after bacteria resistant to a “last resort” antibiotic was found in a Pennsylvania woman.

The advisory calls for health-care providers to ensure that patient/exam rooms receive thorough daily cleanings, follow standard and contact precautions for patients with antibiotic-resistant infections, and promptly report infections to public health authorities.

Theoklis E. Zaoutis, MD, FAAP, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Disease, urged pediatricians to be cautious about antibiotic use and discuss alternative treatments with patients and families. Reducing antibiotic prescriptions can slow the development of resistant bacteria.

The advisory also calls on health-care providers to promote safe food preparation that kills bacteria, viruses, and other foodborne pathogens.

DSHS recommends venous specimens for hemoglobin and lead testing

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Lab encourages Texas Health Steps providers to submit venous specimens whenever possible for hemoglobin and lead testing. Finger stick capillary specimens are more likely to clot and may not be suitable for testing. The lab continues to accept capillary specimens for Texas Health Steps anemia and lead screenings and will test those that are not clotted.

Questions and comments should be sent to DSHS Specimen Logistics by e-mail at

CDC calls on pediatricians to monitor and report Zika infection in infants

Pediatricians should learn to recognize risk factors for Zika infection, monitor and test suspected cases in conjunction with local and state health authorities, and report confirmed cases, according to directives recently issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Texas Department of State Health Services provides a central repository of Zika information for health care providers, including current testing, treatment, and reporting guidelines. also offers important public education materials in English and Spanish that are free and available for health care providers. The materials include fact sheets, cards, posters, newsletter articles, sharable social media posts and graphics, online ads, and more.

To date, all Zika infections in Texas are linked to international travel, but domestic transmission is likely. The first infant born in the mainland U.S. with microencephaly and other Zika-related birth defects was delivered on May 31. At that time, more than 300 pregnant women in the U.S. and its territories were believed to be infected with Zika.

Pediatricians can discuss suspected congenital Zika cases in newborns with the CDC Emergency Operations Center, which can be reached at 770-488-7100 or