Publication Abstract

Authors: D'Orsi C, Tu SP, Nakano C, Carney PA, Abraham LA, Taplin SH, Hendrick RE, Cutter GR, Berns E, Barlow WE, Elmore JG

Title: Current realities of delivering mammography services in the community: do challenges with staffing and scheduling exist?

Journal: Radiology 235(2):391-5

Date: 2005 May

Abstract: PURPOSE: To evaluate the current (2001-2002) capacity of community-based mammography facilities to deliver screening and diagnostic services in the United States. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Institutional review board approvals and patient consent were obtained. A mailed survey was sent to 53 eligible mammography facilities in three states (Washington, New Hampshire, and Colorado). Survey questions assessed equipment and staffing availability, as well as appointment waiting times for screening and diagnostic mammography services. Criterion-related content and construct validity were obtained first by means of a national advisory committee of academic, scientific, and clinical colleagues in mammography that reviewed literature on existing surveys and second by pilot testing a series of draft surveys among community mammography facilities not inclusive of the study facilities. The final survey results were independently double entered into a relational database with programmed data checks. The data were sent encrypted by means of file transfer protocol to a central analytical center at Group Health Cooperative. A two-sided P value with alpha = .05 was considered to show statistical significance in all analyses. RESULTS: Forty-five of 53 eligible mammography facilities (85%) returned the survey. Shortages of radiologists relative to the mammographic volume were found in 44% of mammography facilities overall, with shortages of radiologists higher in not-for-profit versus for-profit facilities (60% vs 28% reported). Shortages of Mammography Quality Standards Act-qualified technologists were reported by 20% of facilities, with 46% reporting some level of difficulty in maintaining qualified technologists. Waiting times for diagnostic mammography ranged from less than 1 week to 4 weeks, with 85% performed within 1 week. Waiting times for screening mammography ranged from less than 1 week to 8 weeks, with 59% performed between 1 week and 4 weeks. Waiting times for both diagnostic and screening services were two to three times higher in high-volume compared with low-volume facilities. CONCLUSION: Survey results show shortages of radiologists and certified mammography technologists.