May 22, 2008: Drive-Through Mastectomies Threaten Patients' Lives


Thu May 22, 9:00 AM ET

To: POLITICAL EDITORS

Contact: Pamela Green at Breastcancer.org at (610) 642-6550 or pgreen@breastcancer.org.

WASHINGTON, May 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Mandatory drive-through mastectomies are an unconscionable practice that can endanger patients' recovery and lead to unnecessary complications," says Dr. Marisa Weiss, a leading breast oncologist and Founder and President of Breastcancer.org, in an open letter to Congress today as the "Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act," H.R. 758, is discussed in a House subcommittee hearing. Sixty-five percent of the 125,000 patients undergoing mastectomies each year in the United States are sent home within 24 hours -- a potentially dangerous situation for patients.

The letter, in support of the bill sponsored by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, follows:

Dear Representative DeLauro:

I am compelled to write this letter on behalf of my constituency: the thousands of women who trust me with their lives as their personal doctor, and the eight million women who trust Breastcancer.org for the best medical information about breast cancer. As an oncologist -- and as President and Founder of Breastcancer.org -- I have a unique perspective on the needs of these brave women.

When a woman has a mastectomy, her life is on the line. And so are her relationships with all of those she supports ... and those who care for her. The impact is enormous and the stakes are extremely high.

Therefore, the decision about the length of needed in-hospital recovery time following breast surgery must be made within the sacred relationship between a woman and her doctor. Not reduced to a business decision that overrides a doctor's best judgment and the patient's best interest.

Breast cancer is a serious condition that requires serious -- and sensitive -- attention to the physical and emotional needs of each patient.

As someone who has treated thousands of women, I know that the care of these women at this most vulnerable and high-risk time must be individualized. There is no "one size fits all" solution. To suggest otherwise demeans the challenge these women face in their fight against breast cancer.

When insurers set themselves up as the "hospital police," short-cutting the in-hospital recovery process solely for economic reasons-and in disregard for best medical practice-legislation must be enacted to protect American lives.

This same problem has already been addressed with baby deliveries. Women who have mastectomies certainly deserve the same respect.

I thank you for your initiative in championing this life-saving Bill, and urge Congress to take proactive steps to eliminate this misguided practice.

Sincerely,

Marisa C. Weiss, M.D.

Dr. Weiss is available for comment. Please contact Pamela Green at Breastcancer.org at (610) 642-6550 or pgreen@breastcancer.org.

About Breastcancer.org

Breastcancer.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the most reliable, comprehensive, and up-to-date news and information about breast cancer, its prevention, and treatment.

CONTACT: Pamela Green at Breastcancer.org at (610) 642-6550 or pgreen@breastcancer.org.

SOURCE: Breastcancer.org

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