Patients Reporting Long Wait Times for Biopsies at Harbor-UCLA Hospital
Women seeking appointments for breast biopsies at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center have reported facing wait times as long as five months, the Los Angeles Times reports.
One Harbor-UCLA physician -- who asked not to be identified -- said the hospital's average wait time for breast biopsies is between eight and nine weeks.
Implications of Lengthy Wait Times
Carol Lee -- who leads the American College of Radiology's breast commission -- said average wait times for breast biopsies range from one day to a few weeks at most hospitals, including those that treat a large percentage of uninsured and low-income patients.
Although Harbor-UCLA's wait times do not violate federal or state law, advocates and patients say the delays could cause excessive stress for patients.
Hospital, County Response
Harbor-UCLA officials contend that claims of major delays for breast biopsies have been exaggerated.
However, hospital officials acknowledge that the number of patients seeking care through Los Angeles County's Department of Health Services has increased significantly in recent years, partly because of a decrease in the number of private health care providers and specialists who are willing to treat uninsured patients.
County officials claim that Harbor-UCLA's wait times for breast biopsies are between one and four weeks. Harbor-UCLA has three radiologists on staff, but only two are able to conduct biopsies one day each week (Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, 9/26).
A recent New England Journal of Medicine study suggesting that the benefits of mammograms are modest "should not be read as a call to retreat from mammography," a Los Angeles Times editorial states. It adds, "Rather, it should inspire further investigation, more comprehensive treatment for patients" and "screening tailored in a way that is most effective for the individual" (Los Angeles Times, 9/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.