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What you should expect

The Standard of care for breast diagnostic services includes the following five areas and recommendations outlining what women should expect when she is referred to a breast diagnostic service:

1. Excellent communication between the service and the woman’s doctor

The breast diagnostic service should have:

  • clear processes for doctors (GPs) who refer women to the service
  • written protocols, processes and systems to ensure the woman’s doctor receives all test results and recommendations in a timely manner.

    2. Properly trained, qualified and experienced staff

    Staff coordinating, carrying out or reporting the results of tests should be:

    • properly qualified
    • experienced in diagnosing breast changes
    • trained in communicating clearly and sensitively with women.

    Staff should follow Australian guidelines for:

    • collecting information about women
    • carrying out all tests
    • communicating the results and next steps to the woman
    • communicating the test results and recommendations to her doctor.

    3. Women’s needs for personal space, comfort and privacy are addressed

    Services should have protocols for supporting and communicating with all women, including:

    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
    • women from diverse cultures
    • women with special needs.

    The service should have separate testing and comfortable waiting areas for women.

    4. Women are well informed and clearly understand what to expect before they consent to tests.

    Women give their consent to each stage of the test/s based on:

    • information they receive from the service before and during their appointment
    • when the tests will be done, and how long they will take
    • how long they may have to wait before or between tests
    • how their special needs will be met
    • their understanding of how and why they need to undress
    • the costs involved.

    Services will not do any of the following without a woman’s consent:

    • use their information, including test results for teaching or research purposes
    • take and use photos of them
    • mention that the woman has breast implants to other staff.

    If services are to give women bad news, they should:

    • give the information in an appropriate way, place and time
    • discuss difficult issues sensitively and clearly
    • tell women about information and support options.

    5. Women receive safe and high quality care

    Services should follow Australian guidelines to make sure they:

    • prevent infection
    • carry out tests by qualified specialists in a timely manner
    • use high quality machines and technology
    • have effective systems and processes for storing tests results
    • regularly check that all protocols and systems are up to date
    • consider and act on women’s feedback
    • employ appropriately trained and experienced staff.

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