Senators Discuss Hospital-Acquired Infections, NIH Funds
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) on Thursday during a roundtable discussion with Pennsylvania physicians discussed efforts to prevent hospital-acquired infections, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
During the discussion, held at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Richard Shannon, chair of medicine at the hospital, said that a three-year effort by the facility to prevent such infections has saved an estimated 47 lives. He said that hospitals could prevent as many as 90% of cases of such infections within 12 months through improved hygiene practices and standardization of treatment for intensive-care unit patients.
Frist, a heart and lung surgeon, added that such efforts can result in "huge savings." A 2006 Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council report estimated that health insurers pay seven times more for the treatment of patients who contract infections in hospitals than those who do not.
During the discussion, Norman Wolmark, a physician and cancer researcher, also asked the senators to seek increased funds for NIH. However, Santorum said, "My initial reaction is: We just doubled your budget, and you're telling me, 'We're in a crisis because we don't have enough money.'" He added, "How much more do you guys want?" (Snowbeck, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/2).