February 28, 2007


Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced bipartisan legislation, The Patient-Focused Critical Care Enhancement Act, to address a current shortage in critical healthcare professionals that will become more severe as the population grows. Critical care doctors or "intensivists" are a new specialty of physicians who are board certified in their primary specialty - pulmonology, surgery or anesthesiology- but also have special training in critical care. Critical care doctors and nurses often specialize in total patient care - understanding the effects of treatments on each organ system."Today, only one-third of our critically ill citizens are treated by physicians and nurses specifically trained to manage their complex health issues," said Durbin. "This legislation will help us zero in on the problem, bring more of these high demand doctors to the patients that need them, and encourage more doctors to be trained to treat critical care patients."In May of 2006, the Health Resources and Services Administration sent a report to Congress examined the healthcare need of a growing population and the availability of pulmonary and critical care physicians. "The Critical Care Workforce: A Study of the Supply and Demand for Critical Care Physicians" found that the country will soon face a serious shortfall of physicians trained in critical care medicine."Although no one wants to be in a situation that requires a critical care physician, it is important that there be a steady supply of these important professionals," Crapo said. "Critical care physicians work on severely ill or injured patients. With a looming shortage of these physicians it is important that Congress acts to protect patients across the country."Senators Durbin and Crapo's Patient-Focused Critical Care Enhancement Act:· Directs the U.S. Department of Health to conduct research on standardization, staffing, and coordination of critical care services and provide recommendations to Congress within 18 months of enactment of the bill.· Establishes two critical care services demonstration projects that will be funded by CMS. One project will focus on how to improve critical care services to Medicare beneficiaries through innovations in such areas as staffing, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) arrangements, and utilization of new technology. The second project will focus on family-centered inpatient critical care services, including better communication with family members, involvement of family members in the critical care decision-making process, and responsiveness of critical care providers to family requests.· Makes critical care service providers in rural settings eligible for funding in USDA's Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, and authorizes $5 million in additional funding for the program for each of fiscal years 2008-2013. Telemedicine is most beneficial for those living in rural communities and allows a general practitioner in a small town to get assistance from a specialist at a remote location."The United States is facing a critical care workforce shortage and The Patient-Focused Critical Care Enhancement Act will make strides toward addressing this crisis by allowing us to focus on the unique needs of critically ill patients today and secure optimal health-care for all critically ill patients in the future," said Mark J. Rosen, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. "The ACCP applauds Senator Durbin and Senator Crapo for recognizing the ominous conclusions of the HRSA Report and moving quickly to improve the quality of care for critically ill patients in the United States."# # #