Orlando woman denied mammogram twice because of age

26-year-old turned away from 2 facilities

ORLANDO, Fla. - Katie Schaber said she has been fighting to get a medical facility to give her a mammogram since December.

The 26-year-old University of Florida graduate is going public after both Sand Lake Imaging on Turkey Lake Road and Celebration Florida Hospital denied her doctor's order for a mammogram.

According to Schaber, she was told she was too young and did not need it.

"It seems a little odd to me that I have to keep fighting for something that so many women find uncomfortable," Schaber said, "But I think that it is important."

Schaber's insurance company will cover the procedure, yet even with the prescription and a history of breast cancer in her family, both facilities denied her request for a mammogram because she is under the age of 30.

Florida Hospital media relations manager Jennifer Roberts responded to the denial, saying the hospital and its imaging centers "would never turn a patient away seeking treatment and are committed to honoring prescriptions that provide the appropriate diagnostic testing for each individual, regardless of age."

But Roberts agreed that age plays into the overall decision.

"We must abide by our accredited appropriateness criteria approved by The American College of Radiology for Diagnostic Mammography and Breast Ultrasound." she said.

"These criteria recommend that women 29 and under receive an ultrasound and/or provide adequate health history, including previous exams, prior to performing a diagnostic mammogram."

Even more surprising is that fact that Schaber had a doctor's prescription for the procedure.

"I was shocked," Schaber said, "I think that by making that blanket statement you are ignoring possible cases, and women who may be at risk are just walking out the door."

A lump was discovered in her left breast during a physical exam last year. An ultrasound conducted at Sand Lake Imaging in December showed the breast to be normal.

According to the ultrasound report, the radiologist wanted past mammogram data reviewed before a new procedure was performed.

Dr. Charlotte Elenberger, the radiologist who reviewed Schaber's ultrasound for Sand Lake Imaging said federal law prohibits her from discussing specifics in the case.

In a statement, Elenberger wrote, "We appreciate the time you are taking to ensure that all patients seeking healthcare receive the highest preventive and diagnostic care. The confidentiality constraints of HIPAA prevent us from discussing any patient's situation. In fact, we are forbidden from even acknowledging if someone is indeed a patient. However, generally speaking, we work in partnership with our referring physicians and then report our findings back to them."

Dr. Julie Miller, a breast radiologist with the Women's Center for Radiology in Orlando says she has seen women as young as 17 with breast cancer.

"If the patient is young, you would start with an ultrasound to minimize radiation," Miller said. "But you certainly wouldn't stop at that point just because of her age."

Robyn Maynard, the founder of Libby's Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation, contacted the Women's Center about Local 6's investigation.

"She had everything she needed except the 'yes' that should have been given to her," Maynard said.

The Center agreed to  run a  3-D mammogram. The scan did detect something "unusual" but it appeared thicker because tissue had been removed from Schaber's right breast, creating the visual disparity.

A week later, an MRI found Katie was fine, but she will need to return in six months to see if there are any changes. 

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