According to a recently published study, community-based mammography facilities do not have enough radiologists and certified technologists to adequately deliver screening and diagnostic services to the public, and the situation will probably get worse.
In a survey of 45 mammography facilities in three states, Washington, New Hampshire and Colorado, done from 2001-2002, researchers found that if issues causing staff shortage are not addressed more facilities will close and screening will become more centralized, and this might make screening and diagnostic mammography impossible for some women.
The study led by Carl D'Orsi, M.D., professor of radiology and director of the Breast Imaging Center at Emory University in Atlanta, found that 20% of facilities reported a shortage of Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) qualified technologists, and nearly 46% reported difficulty in maintaining qualified technologists.
85 % of the facilities were reported as being able to schedule diagnostic mammograms within one week of a request, while only 30% of facilities had the ability to schedule screening mammograms within a week, 47% reported a wait of two or more weeks for screening mammography. In high-volume facilities, the scheduling delays for both diagnostic and screening mammography were two to three times higher than in low-volume facilities, with some facilities reporting waiting times of up to four weeks for a diagnostic mammogram.
Distinct regions of the country are represented in the survey and are part of a breast cancer consortium with access to a great amount of data.
Dr. D'Orsi says this is a community-based report that fits the profile of the rest of the country and indicates that the results are reflective of national trends.