Women face long waits for biopsies at L.A. County-run hospitals
Patients are encountering increasingly long waits for biopsies at Harbor-UCLA, while those seeking biopsies at other hospitals are treated within weeks, if not sooner.
The delays do not violate state or federal law, but patients and advocates say they cause excessive stress, and do not bode well for the county's ability to adapt to national healthcare reforms.
Demand for county medical services has increased across the board over the last several years, due in great part to people losing jobs and employer-sponsored health insurance.
Hospital officials insist that claims of excessive delays for biopsies are exaggerated but acknowledge the number of patients seeking care at the county's Department of Health Services has surged, as fewer private providers, especially specialists, are willing to treat patients without private insurance.
"More and more people are not doing these things on uninsured patients and that leaves more on our doorstep," said Carol Meyer, the department's chief network officer.
A Harbor-UCLA doctor, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, said the average wait time for breast biopsies was eight to nine weeks.
-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske