Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Another Law To Ensure Doctors Do Right By Their Patients

Recently the [state of] New York signed a law requiring hospitals and doctors to discuss breast reconstruction options with the patient prior to her undergoing cancer surgery. It troubled me that this law was needed. Is it not the duty of the physicians and surgeons to educate the patient on the options available? 

We need to make sure the patient and their family know of the treatment options which may vary depending on the diagnosis and stage: Radiation, chemotherapy, surgery (lumpectomy, mastectomy, axillary dissection) – a combination of treatments.

Even if the patient and her physicians don’t chose to do immediate reconstruction, isn’t the discussion and information part of the discussion? At least inform the patient of the option.

Do we physicians and surgeons need another law to ensure we do right by our patients?

Not all patient’s have health insurance so reconstruction may become unattainable due to finances. Susan G. Komen has a nice resource page for financial assistance available for breast cancer patients. I did not see any that would cover reconstruction. Many will help will obtaining a prosthetic.

Patients who do have health insurance are afforded protection under the “Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998″ (WHCRA). However, as I was reviewing and researching the WHCRA for this piece, I learned that it’s not a blanket protection:

Generally, group health plans, as well as their insurance companies and HMOs, that provide coverage for medical and surgical benefits with respect to a mastectomy must comply with WHCRA.

However, if your coverage is provided by a “church plan” or “governmental plan”, check with your plan administrator. Certain plans that are church plans or governmental plans may not be subject to this law.

Breast Reconstruction—Part I (October 2007)

Breast Reconstruction – Part II (October 2007)

Patient Satisfaction Following Breast Reconstruction Using Implants  (June 7, 2010)

REFERENCES:

Before Breast Is Removed, a Discussion on Options; New York Times article, August 18, 2010; Anemona Hartocollis

“Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998’’ Summary; American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons website

Your Rights After A Mastectomy…Women’s Health & Cancer Rights Act of 1998; Department of Labor

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »