The authors' goal was to help breast care providers and their professional organizations understand and, if possible, reduce the source of delays, and to explore the relationship between timeliness and patient satisfaction.
Researchers, including a range of surgeons, radiologists, auditing staff and nurses, used the electronic medical records of all patients who received a diagnosis of breast cancer between January 2004 and September 2007 at a single breast center. Time intervals from an abnormal mammogram screening or breast symptom to diagnostic evaluation, to pathology reporting, and to surgical treatment were tabulated. A postal survey of patient satisfaction was also conducted for patients diagnosed between 2004 and 2006. Patients were asked if their expectations for timeliness in appointments for testing, consultations and treatment were met.
The median time interval in business days from abnormal mammogram screening to diagnostic evaluation and core needle biopsy was six days. The median time intervals from core needle biopsy (CNB) to CNB pathology report, and then subsequent surgical consultation and breast cancer operation, were one, three and seven days, respectively. Factors that prolonged time to treatment were breast MRI, systemic imaging, plastic surgery consultation, type of surgical procedure, and patient choice.
The response rate for the postal survey was 52 percent (n=458). Within the survey, 91 percent (n=234) of patients' expectations were met or exceeded when asked if they were able to schedule their appointment as soon as desired. When asked about the time
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