Stephens bill stops in Senate

Austin – The Cody Stephens Bill, House Bill 767 effectively was done in (for now) by the Senate Committee of Education vote of 6 to 5 last Thursday.

Most of the testimony was in favor of the bill, that featured offering E.K.G. testing by portable machine for first time athletes participating in U.I.L. sports activities at low cost.

The legislation was an update to the stethoscope and questions of the 14 point screening process performed on athletes now. Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the leading cause of young athletes to die on the field. It took the life of Cody Stephens on May 6, 2012 as he sat in his father’s recliner following football practice.

His father, Scott Stephens, worked with Rep. Wayne Smith of Crosby, Dan Huberty of Huffman and many others to get a bill passed and in the House Committee on Public Education, HB 767 was approved 11 to 0. It was approved by the House 86 to 57.

“The U.I.L. told me that without their Medical Advisory Commission agreeing to it, their hands were tied.” Scott Stephens told the Star-Courier, “We found 17 of 15, 000 so far that had sufficient problems to merit further review, that tells me that for every million students in Texas 1,000 young lives could be at risk.”

The stethoscope was invented in 1816 when a young French physician named Rene Theophile Laennec invented it to use examining a young female patient. It was a leap forward in medicine because it gave clearer audio to the heart. In the last century technology has moved on but legislation has seemingly stagnated.

Israel, Italy and Japan have now adopted using E.K.G screenings on a large scale basis, with Italy reporting a 90% drop in sudden cardiac arrest following a study in 2006.

Medical evaluations of the E.K.G. procedure say there is a false positive rate of 3% to 5%. Opponents of the bill say that false positives would incur undue financial stress on families with athletes that had nothing wrong with them.

Ninety-two percent of American professional athletes get screening EKGs. Following the death of Atlanta Hawks center Jason Collier in 2005, all NBA players get a cardiac ultrasound—an even more reliable, if expensive, test than an EKG—to exclude causes of sudden death. Several college sports programs, such as those at Purdue, Ohio State University, and Georgia Tech, also perform echocardiograms. Huffman ISD initiated EKG screenings for student athletes prior to the death of Cody Stephens. Effectively, the charge for the EKG would drop dramatically if routinely done on all students,. Medicare reimbursements grant about $50 though it takes only minutes to obtain and a minute to read. The Cody Setphens Go Big or Go Home Memorial Foundation is providing EKG screenings for about $15 and that is far less of a pay-off than $400 per screening. August 29 of this year, the Cody Stephens Memorial Foundation Go Big Or Go Home will have its annual fundraiser to provide funds to EKG Screen student athletes at the American Legion in Crosby.

“One thing to understand is that Medical Commissions don’t represent patients, they represent doctors.” concluded Stephens about the legislative process, “It was a good run, but unfortunately it came up short.”