Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Funds Effort to Improve Quality Care in Chicago
CHICAGO – October 22, 2010 –
New data released yesterday points to significant issues in the quality of breast cancer care for women in Chicago, giving new urgency to efforts to eliminate inequalities in health care, Susan G. Komen for the Cure®
said today. Data from the Chicago Breast Cancer Quality Consortium shows that more than 40 percent of hospitals failed to follow-up with patients that had an abnormal mammogram to ensure they received further tests to confirm or rule out cancer.
“We’ve talked for some time about the importance of access to care, but access is just part of the issue. It does the women of our community little good if the care they receive is of poor quality,” said Ruth Todd, board president of the Chicagoland Area Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®
. “We have long suspected that some women were getting poorer quality of care than others. This data, along with our community needs assessment, will help us get a clearer measure of this problem so that we can begin to fix it. We have shifted our local funding priorities to attack this very issue in the Chicagoland community”
The Chicago Breast Cancer Quality Consortium was founded with a $1 million grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure to collaboratively seek answers to disparities in outcomes for African American women in Chicago, who were dying at a rate 62 percent higher than white counterparts with breast cancer. Data released yesterday showed that many Chicago-area hospitals and clinics that screen and treat Chicago-area women for breast cancer cannot prove they are providing quality care. They are not required to track or report this information to the public and are participating in the study under the condition of anonymity.
“Women deserve to know they are getting the best care possible,” said Elizabeth Thompson
, president of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “We funded the Consortium to understand the scope of the problem and these initial findings confirm our fears. Now we must work together to fix the problems.”
Breast cancer mortality rates in Chicago for white women were actually higher than for black women in the early 1980s. With increased awareness nationally and an increased emphasis on early detection, mortality rates for white women in the community began to drop dramatically, yet the rates for black women actually increased. Today, the mortality rate for black women in Chicago is 62 percent higher than for white women. The inequality in Chicago is much higher than the national average (41 percent) and significantly higher than other major metropolitan areas such as New York (27 percent), suggesting a unique problem for the community.
The report shows that many Chicago area hospitals and clinics need to improve how they measure and improve the quality of their breast health services. For example, the report analyzed data from 37 hospitals for screening and 19 hospitals for treatment and found:
• Only about two-thirds of hospitals could demonstrate the ability to detect breast cancers early, or when they were small.
• About 40 percent of hospitals failed to demonstrate the ability to adequately detect any breast cancers with a screening mammogram.
• About two-thirds of hospitals failed to begin treating women within 30 days of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
“All women should not only have access to screening tools and treatment without delay, but to quality care, no matter where she seeks their services. Whether you live or die should not depend on where you live, how much you earn, or your race and ethnicity.” said Thompson. “Thanks to recent reforms to our health system, more women will have access to breast health care. Yet the quality measures for that care have yet to be defined. This project in an example of how Komen is not just pointing out where there are problems, we are also helping find the solutions.”
In addition to investing $1 million to study this issue, Komen recently awarded another $500,000 to help those clinics and hospitals that failed to meet quality standards to improve the care they provide.
In one generation, Komen has forever changed the way the disease is talked about and treated, touching every medical advance in the fight against breast cancer. Komen funding has helped deliver more accurate screening technologies, targeted therapies and an increase in survival rates from 74 percent in 1982 to more than 98 percent for early stage breast cancer today – an increase reflected in the faces of the 2.5 million breast cancer survivors alive in the U.S. today.
“We are committed to identifying where and why breast cancer care is delivered unequally, and investing in ways to end it,” said Thompson.
Overall, Komen has invested more than $42 million in research into disparities. In addition, Komen and its Affiliates make grants for community programs to help end disparities in care. For example, last year, Komen made community grants to over 700 organizations for programs targeting African American women totaling $40 million. The Komen Chicagoland Area Affiliate invested almost $1.4 million in education, screening and treatment programs for area uninsured and underinsured men and women.