New Texas Law Will Allow Localities To Set Up Review Teams to Examine Infant Mortality; Blacks Have Highest Infant Mortality Rates
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has signed into law a bill (SB 143) that will designate a medical review team to study the cause of high infant mortality rates around the state, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
The Star-Telegram reports that the highest infant mortality rate of any urban Texas county is in Tarrant County and is among blacks (Vaughn, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 6/27). Tarrant County has had the state's highest infant mortality rate among blacks for the past 10 years (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 3/28).
The bill will give cities and counties legal authority to create fetal and infant mortality review teams. The review teams will be made up of physicians, nurses, social-service providers and other professionals who will examine medical records and autopsies and conduct interviews with affected families. The findings will then be combined with other data to help develop specific strategies to address the problem. The tool is commonly used across the nation, according to the Star-Telegram.
In Tarrant County, the review team likely will be a part of the County Public Health department, which runs a task force of 36 groups and agencies that are examining infant mortality in the county. "What the (review team) does is allow you to go beyond the numbers," Jerry Roberson, chair of the Tarrant County infant mortality task force, said, adding, "You're actually sitting and talking to families impacted by an infant death. There are things that are captured there that you just can't capture by doing a statistical analysis."
The law will take effect Sept. 1 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 6/27).