Getting High-Quality Care

Every person with breast cancer deserves the best care possible.

This section provides tips to help you find a health care provider and medical center. It also describes ways to help make sure you’re getting high-quality care.

What is quality of care?

Quality of care is a measure of:

  • How well your breast cancer is treated
  • How well you are cared for during and after treatment

According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a key aspect of high-quality cancer care is:

“the delivery of the right treatment to the right patient at the right time” [1].

Getting high-quality care means you have the best treatment for your breast cancer. It also means your treatment is given with compassion.

Getting high-quality care

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 high-quality care. In health care research, many methods are used to measure the quality of care people get from a provider or medical center. Some common methods are discussed below.

Quality of care in hospitals and medical centers

Hospitals and medical centers should have up-to-date equipment and facilities (including well-stocked exam and operating rooms). They should also have doctors with appropriate credentials.

These basics don’t always ensure you’ll get high-quality care. The types of treatment offered and how well people do after care are often more important measures of quality.

However, it’s difficult to compare some measures, such as rates of survival after breast cancer treatment and quality of life after treatment. The people treated at one hospital may be different from those treated at another hospital, which can impact these types of data.

Quality of patient care

This measure looks at the quality of care given by health care providers and hospitals. Providers should follow current guidelines for breast cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment and do so in a compassionate way.

The Joint Commission conducts site visits and audits of medical centers to check 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.

 

The media sometimes reports on new or innovative breast cancer treatments in other parts of the world. Some people may be tempted by these reports to seek treatment outside the U.S.

While there are many promising, new treatments under study, there are also many hoaxes. Anyone in the U.S. should be cautious about traveling abroad for special or lower-cost treatments.

Treatment near family and friends

One reason people may seek care outside the U.S. is to be closer to family or friends who live abroad. Practical and social support from family and friends is important in breast cancer care and can be a good reason to seek treatment abroad.

Most Western countries are equally good at treating breast cancer. However, quality of treatment varies in some parts of the world.

If you’re considering getting treatment outside the U.S., ask about the experience of the medical center and doctors providing care. It’s also important to check whether your health insurance plan covers breast cancer treatment abroad.

 

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