What You Need to Know Before Going in for a Mammogram

A big part of what we do here at HealthyWomen is empower women to be their own advocates when it comes to their overall health and well-being. 

As the saying goes (and my own grandmother would reiterate) “knowledge is power,” and it never ceases to amaze me when I come across a nugget of information that neither the general public nor I was aware of.

We all know how important it is to ask questions of your health care provider at the time of your visit—especially when further tests, procedures or prescriptions are necessary.

But did you ever think to review with your doctor how those orders might be written?

A good friend brought a disconcerting scenario to my attention recently, and it’s important for every woman to know about:

My friend had gone for her routine mammogram appointment when the radiologist recommended a follow-up mammogram and subsequent ultrasound for something that looked “suspicious” in her left breast.

Unnerved as any woman in that situation might be, her tension rose when she learned that her prescription from her health care provider was written solely for “mammogram” and not “mammogram and any related testing.” 

She spent over six hours at the breast center waiting for a new prescription to be written and faxed to the radiologist authorizing the additional procedures. Lucky for her, the doctor’s office was open, and my friend received the new prescription that day.

In the end, everything turned out fine, and a day of needless worry and hassle ended smoothly. 

The lesson we should all learn is this: When getting prescriptions for routine screenings and/or testing, make sure the health care provider includes “AND ANY RELATED TESTING.” This ensures that the services you need can be performed the same day. That alleviates the added stress and financial toll of having to schedule more time off from work and/or additional child care.

So please remember this lesson because—as my grandmother also said—to live life to the fullest you have to learn something new every day! 

Pass it on.


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