Avoid Unnecessary Medicine

April 5, 2012

High Medical costs, unnecessary side-effects and risks, and unproductive time spent in the the hospital are all things being addressed by a new coalition of medical advisory boards. The campaign is called Choosing Wisely, and they want to encourage talk between doctors and patients, especially about tests, medications, and procedures that may not be helpful.

Each board has completed a list of five procedures their specialty over or unnecessarily prescribe. Here are some highlights:

  • Reiterating past advice, antibiotics should not be initially prescribed for sinus infections, which are mostly caused by viruses.
  • Exposure to radiation can be reduced by not performing tests on low-risk patients (studies show there’s little or no benefit).
  • To further reduce radiation exposure, delay body scans in cancer patients with a low risk for metastasis, since it leads to unnecessary radiation, invasive procedures, and false positives with no evidence of benefits.
  • Any patient on long term acid reflux medication should receive the lowest dose necessary.
  • Patients whose preventative screening comes back clear and whose risk is low should delay further screening (this follows advice that’s been circulating the last few years that patients and doctors should create a custom plan that focuses on the patient’s history).
  • Doctors should perform clinical screenings before sending patients off for expensive tests.

The project is ongoing, and most of the associations weighing in are focused on radiology. When the project completes in the fall, there may be more advice concerning prescription medicine.

Right now you can download the lists from the Choosing Wisely website, or you can wait for it to be disseminated through consumer advocacy groups later this year.

What do you think of these new suggestions? What are your strategies for communicating with your doctor, especially in a time of crisis?

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