The U.S. government announced that it will begin testing a system using handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) for transmitting urgent information about biological agents to clinicians. The three-month pilot test of the PDA network is designed to gauge the best ways for federal officials to communicate effectively with front-line clinicians in the event of a bioterrorist attack. The project will evaluate how and when clinicians download this urgent information and whether they find it useful to receive it via their PDAs. “This important new project will allow us to harness the power of technology to communicate with many of the doctors, nurses, and other clinicians who will be called on to diagnose and treat patients quickly in the event of a bioterrorist attack,” HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said.
The U.S. government today proposed a plan to create a smallpox vaccination compensation program to provide benefits to public health and medical response team members who are injured as a result of receiving the smallpox vaccine. It is based on a similar compensation package that is currently available to police officers and firefighters.
The annual cost of diabetes in medical expenditures and lost productivity climbed from $98 billion in 1997 to $132 billion in 2002, according to a study by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) published in the March issue of Diabetes Care. The direct medical costs of diabetes more than doubled in that time, from $44 billion in 1997 to $91.8 billion in 2002. The study’s findings were announced jointly today by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and American Diabetes Association President Francine R. Kaufman, M.D. “Diabetes continues to be a huge financial burden on patients, their families and society, a burden that continues to grow in parallel with the obesity and diabetes epidemics in this country,” Secretary Thompson said.