Rosa DeLauro's 10 year fight for patients' rights.
Since 1999, a very focused Congresswoman has been doing her part to try to improve health care for women. Rosa DeLauro has been tirelessly promoting a law to various congressional committees urging them to consider what is called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act. This act, if approved by both the house and the senate will have a far reaching benefit regarding the minimal hospital stay for mastectomies and lumpectomies. This issue has been at the forefront of women's advocacy groups and doctors for years and is a subject that has drawn great passion from both sides of the debate.
Patient Protection Act Helps Breast Cancer Patients
Just here in the United States over 182,000 women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 alone. Of those women, countless numbers of them will need to undergo surgery including a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Of all these surgeries most insurance companies have a designated amount of time that the patient can stay in the hospital for the aftercare and recovery from breast cancer surgery. In most cases the amount of time a woman is allowed to stay in the hospital is so minimal that doctors were forced to send them home with drains still intact, unhealed and extremely ill prepared to leave.
The Patient Protection Act is legislation for all women. It is centered on mandated hospital recovery times which must be adhered to and paid for by all insurance companies. It identified the amount of time that the normal patient needs in order to be recovered sufficiently to go home (48 hours) and have this built it into the parameters of the law. This breast cancer legislation has been brought to congress six times in the past ten years. Although it has failed on previous attempts the latest introduction, March of this year, has the most promising outlook so far.
The current medical treatment for mastectomies involves pre-surgery testing, the surgery and an immediate release. Because most mastectomies require drainage from the incision a majority of women must leave the hospitals with the drain still attached. Many doctors believe that infection probabilities greatly increase when the patient is outside the watchful eye of the medical staff and breast cancer surgery complications often arise as a result. These are the two biggest factors that have united medical personnel and patients together to support the Patient Protection Act.
Although this breast cancer act will not solve all the issues that currently surround medical care for breast cancer, it will take it light years ahead of where it is today. Of course the critics of the bill, insurance companies being the main resistance, say that the cost of the additional stays in the hospital will not affect reduction in infection and complications. The supporters of the bill counter that not only will breast cancer surgery complications come down, but the overall mental health of breast cancer patients will be vastly improved as well. The less they have to worry about, and the longer they can have to adapt before they leave the hospital, the better off everyone is from the patient to the doctor. Even the insurance companies should benefit being that in the long run, having fewer infections and complications will undoubtedly cut costs for them.