Every person with breast cancer deserves the best care possible. Finding good health care providers and a quality hospital helps ensure you get excellent care and may also give you peace of mind.
This section provides you with tips to help you find a provider and medical center. It also describes ways to help make sure you get the best quality of care.
Quality of care is a measure of:
The Institute of Medicine defines good quality of care as:
“providing patients with appropriate services in a technically competent manner, with good communication, shared decision-making and cultural sensitivity” .
Getting good care means you have the best treatment for your breast cancer and that your treatment is given with compassion.
Symptom management and supportive care are important parts of breast cancer treatment. Symptom management (also called palliative care) aims to prevent or relieve side effects of treatment (such as pain or nausea). Supportive care includes symptom management as well as taking care of your emotional, social, spiritual and practical needs.
One of the best ways to help ensure you'll get good medical care is to be informed. Learning about breast cancer and your specific diagnosis and treatment options can help you talk with your health care providers and share in decision-making.
It’s also important to understand what makes up good care. In health care research, many methods are used to measure the quality of care people get from a provider or medical center. Three of the more common methods are discussed below.
Hospitals and medical centers should have up-to-date facilities (including well-stocked examining and operating rooms) and equipment, as well as doctors with appropriate credentials.
However, these basics do not always ensure you will get good care. The types of treatment offered and how well people do after care are often more important measures of quality.
This measure looks at the quality of care given by health care providers and hospitals. Providers, in addition to giving good basic care, should follow current guidelines for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Learn more about these guidelines.
The Joint Commission conducts site visits and audits of medical centers to check their quality of care. The Joint Commission gives each center a rating based on performance. To find a hospital that meets safety and quality standards, visit The Joint Commission's website or call (630) 792-5800.
Ideally, it would be good to know how well people do when treated by different health care providers and at different hospitals. Information such as rates of complications (like infection) after surgery, survival after breast cancer treatment and quality of life after treatment would be helpful to know.
This information, however, is rarely available. It is also difficult to compare these types of data because the people treated at one hospital may be different from those treated at another hospital.
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