Mammography Quality Comfort Measures

As part of our mammography quality project, we asked some of the larger hospitals and medical practices in the area what they do to make women comfortable before, during and after a mammogram. We took a few key items from their responses for our table comparing all mammography quality measures, and then we summarized their full responses below:

Atrius Health

At Atrius Health, which includes Harvard Vanguard, Dedham Medical Associates and Granite Medical Group, a technologist meets with the patient before the test to explain the procedure, the importance of good compression, and how the patient will receive test results. The patient will receive a call in 24 to 48 hours if additional imaging is needed.

Technologists provide wipes to remove deodorant, a packaged gown and magazines to read while in a separate mammography waiting area. Atrius schedules the next yearly appointment when the patient checks in and provides a reminder call. Atrius offers screening mammograms seven days a week with extended hours (6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.) Monday-Friday.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center offers warm blankets and different size/length robes. They're renovating their BreastCare Center at the Shapiro Building. It will include a separate check-in area for breast patients, a calming color scheme and artwork, private nooks in waiting areas; visuals for distraction (the mammography suites have a ‘feature wall’ with stenciled scenes and ultrasound rooms have abstract light fixtures on dimmers); and music for those who request.

Beverly Hospital

Beverly Hospital, which includes Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester and Lahey Outpatient Center Danvers, has private patient changing and waiting areas, Wi-Fi access, patient education materials, complimentary coffee and tea, soothing music and an on-site blanket warmer.

Patients can join a support group or work with the Beverly YMCA's Pink Program, which provides exercise and health education for patients.

Boston Medical Center

The staff in the Belkin Breast Health Center say they are well versed in patient sensitivity and work to ensure that each patient receives prompt, kind and exceptional service when coming for a mammogram. Each room has a theme (for example, Greece, New England, Italy) to help make the experience more enjoyable for patients. In addition, Boston Medical Center offers patients juice, snacks and water while they wait for their mammogram.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Patients wait in a separate mammography waiting area where Wi-Fi is available, as well as magazines and patient education materials. In private changing areas, patients are given wipes to remove their deodorant and warm blankets are provided. The hospital has a full-time interpreter service, which is available to any patient whose first language is not English.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) technologists and radiologists often get to know patients by name, which creates a comfortable atmosphere for patients. During a normal day, the radiologist is available to answer questions and address concerns. Patients tell CHA that its new 3D mammography machines make compression much more comfortable. CHA says it takes pride in providing expert imaging that is tailored to each patient.

Lahey Medical Center

Lahey Medical Center has private patient changing and waiting areas, Wi-Fi access, patient education materials and an on-site blanket warmer. Foam breast pads are available to make the examination surface softer and more comfortable. The hospital uses a specialized, cushioned biopsy chair for both upright and reclined procedures. There is a dedicated nursing staff to provide comfort, emotional support and extra medical attention.

Mount Auburn Hospital

To ensure the well-being of patients, Mount Auburn Hospital (MAH) will call to deliver screening test results and call to arrange additional tests if needed. Patients who return for more imaging receive a final report before they leave. If a biopsy is recommended, it is offered that same day unless the patient is taking an anticoagulant. A nurse or breast patient navigator is available daily for questions. The hospital has onsite medical interpreters and a phone line with hundreds of language interpreters. Patients can choose from capes and gowns in different sizes and hot and cold refreshments. Courtesy iPads with free Wi-Fi are available while patients wait. MAH has a genetics and cancer prevention clinic onsite for appropriate patients.

Newton-Wellesley Hospital

At Newton-Wellesley Hospital, the imaging technologist interviews each patient before the test to establish a level of comfort and conduct a risk assessment to identify women at high risk for breast cancer and reassure women who are not at high risk. If a patient needs surgery, the hospital uses breast pads for added comfort during needle localization procedures. Newton-Wellesley offers same-day results and rapid work up including biopsies. Mammography patients wear gowns that were designed for the hospital by LaSalle college students.

Tufts Medical Center

Tufts Medical Center uses flex panels that have some pliability to compress the breast and the least amount of compression necessary to get a high-quality image. The machine also has “mood lighting,” in which the large support stand the patient faces slowly changes from one calming color to another.

UMass Memorial Medical Center

UMass Memorial Medical Center provides full-time interpreter services. Patients are offered juice and crackers if they feel faint or light-headed, and blankets if needed during the exam.

Winchester Hospital

Winchester Hospital has private patient changing and waiting areas, Wi-Fi access, patient education materials and an onsite blanket warmer. The hospital offers private education and onsite genetic counseling, and uses a nurse navigator to ensure efficient service.

This post was updated with additional comfort measures from Brigham and Women's Hospital.

This article was originally published on March 07, 2016.


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Martha Bebinger Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.



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