Doctors move Steve Scalise to intensive care amid infection concerns

Steve Scalise in intensive care
Steve Scalise in intensive care 01:50

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has suffered a setback in his recovery from gunshot wounds. He was one of five injured when 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson opened fire last month at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia.

On Thursday, he underwent surgery for the management of infection, and he's back in intensive care.

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook spoke with James Brown on "CBS Evening News" to explain Scalise's medical condition and what potentially could be wrong.

"We don't have a lot of information, but causes of infection in a hospital include pneumonia, infection of the bladder, urinary tract infection," Dr. LaPook explained. "You have all these catheters and tubes in you which could get infected."

He says the hospital probably "picked up evidence of infection" -- including a fever, elevated white count or a change in vital signs -- and decided to move Scalise "back to a part of the hospital where (they) can really keep a close eye on him."

While MedStar Washington Hospital announced Scalise underwent surgery and remains in serious condition, they did not clarify which part of the body received the procedure.

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook talks about Rep. Steve Scalise's condition on "CBS Evening News."  CBS News

When the bullet entered Scalise's pelvis, it shattered, causing "hundreds of fragments of bone," which "acted like shrapnel," LaPook said.

There are many important organs and structures near the pelvis, including the colon.

"When the colon gets injured, bacteria can leak out," LaPook said. "There are trillions of bacteria there and they can cause a little pocket called an abscess. That's where there's a lot of bacteria that's growing up and it can be very hard for the antibiotics to reach it."

Surgery is required to put a drain in the colon if interventional radiology does not eliminate the bacteria, he said.

The hospital said it would provide more details about Scalise's condition on Thursday.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) speaks as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) looks on during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 15, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Getty