Patients forcing doctors to run out of critical medical supplies

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Doctors limited on medical supplies are now having to give masks to patients that are coming in for in-person appointments. 

Doctors tell KXAN investigators that some patients are showing up without masks because they either forget them or they don’t have one. 

New guidelines from the Texas Medical Board requires patients and physicians to wear masks during this pandemic. 

“A mask must be worn by both the patient and physician or the physician’s delegate when in proximity of the patient (meaning less than a 6-foot distance between the patient and the physician or the physician’s delegate),” the TMB rules say. 

“As the Board’s guidance has stated, a requirement for a face covering (does not need to be any specific type of mask or material – can be a bandanna, scarf, other cloth covering, etc.) is to protect patients and physicians and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” TMB spokesperson Jarrett Schneider explained.

In north Austin, pediatrician Dr. Leighton Ellis has been making masks for patients who don’t have one. 

“We devised this little mask made out of a paper towels and rubber bands that works pretty well if they forget it,” Dr. Ellis said. “We want them to wear a mask to protect us, you know, the cloth mask and a surgical mask protects mostly another person, might protect you too, if you’re coughed on.”

The Texas Academy of Family Physicians is hearing from doctors across the state. 

“…calls have started coming in from physicians about patients who, “refused to wear a mask” which puts practices in an impossible position,” said Tom Banning who heads TAFP. “Imagine a patient, who refused to wear a mask, but needed a blood draw for labs to manage their chronic illness – either the patient isn’t going to get care and their disease will progress unmanaged or the physician is going to violate the law.”

Banning says he got another call from a practice in East Texas recently that reported having to give out 175 masks to patients.

“At that burn rate they’ll be out of masks by end of week – no masks for physicians, nurses, staff or patients,” Banning said.

“The Board’s emergency rule is in line with similar guidance issued across the country and from the CDC,” Schneider said. “Importantly, no one is requiring physicians to hand out large quantities of masks or PPE.”

Tonight on KXAN News at 6, Arezow Doost breaks down who’s exempt from this new rule.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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