Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Mammogram Recalls at Hospitals vs. Private Practices

Repeat tests cause anxiety and additional costs for patients

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- Women who underwent mammography screening at a hospital were more likely to be called back for additional testing than those who had mammography at a private practice, a new study found.

Recalls cause anxiety and additional costs for patients and there have been efforts to keep recall rates as low as possible, the researchers said. They added that recall rates are used by the U.S. government as a quality measure for breast cancer screening, and these findings illustrate the limitations of doing so.

The study authors analyzed data on more than 74,000 screening mammograms that were conducted at either a hospital or a private practice between May 2008 and September 2011 and reviewed by five radiologists. Both sites used the same type of mammography technology and interpretation method.

The overall recall rate was 7.8 percent, but the 6.9 percent recall rate at the community practice was much lower than the 8.6 percent recall rate at the hospital, according to the findings published online July 24 in the journal Radiology.

"For every radiologist, the recall rate was significantly lower in community practice than in the hospital setting," study author Dr. Ana Lourenco, a radiologist at the Rhode Island Hospital and the School of Medicine at Brown University, said in a journal news release.

Further analysis revealed important differences that may have affected recall rates, including the fact that many more of the hospital patients had undergone previous surgery (13 percent) and biopsies (7 percent) than the patients at the private practice, 5.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

"These patients may have more complicated mammograms to interpret or may be at higher risk for cancer than patients at the community site," Lourenco said. "Higher-risk patients would be expected to increase the recall rate of the population."

Another important factor was age. The average age of hospital patients was 56, compared with 63 for patients at the private practice.

"Younger age has been associated with higher recall rates," Lourenco explained.

She said that while efforts to develop measures of quality for breast cancer screening are commendable, recall rates can be affected by uncontrollable factors and, therefore, cannot be used alone to determine the quality of a radiologist or facility.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow