Drive-Through Mastectomies Threaten Patients' Lives

Friday, May 23, 2008 General News
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WASHINGTON, May 22 "Mandatory drive-throughmastectomies is an unconscionable practice that can endanger patients'recovery and lead to unnecessary complications," says Dr. Marisa Weiss, aleading breast oncologist and Founder and President of, in anopen letter to Congress today as the "Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act,"H.R. 758, is discussed in a House subcommittee hearing. Sixty-five percent ofthe 125,000 patients undergoing mastectomies each year in the United Statesare sent home within 24 hours -- a potentially dangerous situation forpatients.

The letter, in support of the bill sponsored by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauroof Connecticut, follows:

Dr. Weiss is available for comment. Please contact Davia Temin or SuzanneOaks of Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or

About is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing themost reliable, comprehensive, and up-to-date news and information about breastcancer, its prevention, and treatment.

CONTACT: Davia Temin or Suzanne Oaks of Temin and Company, at212-588-8788 or, for Representative DeLauro: I am compelled to write this letter on behalf of my constituency: the thousands of women who trust me with their lives as their personal doctor, and the eight million women who trust for the best medical information about breast cancer. As an oncologist -- and as President and Founder of -- I have a unique perspective on the needs of these brave women. When a woman has a mastectomy, her life is on the line. And so are her relationships with all of those she supports ... and those who care for her. The impact is enormous and the stakes are extremely high. Therefore, the decision about the length of needed in-hospital recovery time following breast surgery must be made within the sacred relationship between a woman and her doctor. Not reduced to a business decision that overrides a doctor's best judgment and the patient's best interest. Breast cancer is a serious condition that requires serious -- and sensitive -- attention to the physical and emotional needs of each patient. As someone who has treated thousands of women, I know that the care of these women at this most vulnerable and high-risk time must be individualized. There is no "one size fits all" solution. To suggest otherwise demeans the challenge these women face in their fight against breast cancer. When insurers set themselves up as the "hospital police," short-cutting the in-hospital recovery process solely for economic reasons-and in disregard for best medical practice-legislation must be enacted to protect American lives. This same problem has already been addressed with baby deliveries. Women who have mastectomies certainly deserve the same respect. I thank you for your initiative in championing this life-saving Bill, and urge Congress to take proactive steps to eliminate this misguided practice. Sincerely, Marisa C. Weiss, M.D.


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