Things Doctors and Patients should question

Doctor's StethoscopeToday 17 societies of medical specialties, ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics released reports on unnecessary medical procedures that are wasting money, time and putting patients at risk. A new report takes aim at streamlining healthcare and reducing waste by advising that useless procedures not be done. This is part of a campaign called “Choosing Wisely” which is organized by the American Board of Internal Medicine’s foundation. The reports aim to spread the word to doctors and to patients that may not necessarily be better.
 More than a third of the primary-care doctors in a Consumer Reports survey, for example, said that their patients very frequently or quite often asked for unnecessary or duplicative medical tests. And two-thirds of the doctors said they had agreed to at least one such request. Other research suggests that up to a third of all medical care delivered in the U.S. may be unnecessary.  All that needless care can be harmful to your health”and your wallet.  And any money spent on tests you don’t need is money down the drain.
 Some examples:

  • Don’t use opioid painkillers for migraines except as a last resort, say the neurologists. There are better, more migraine-specific drugs available without the addictive risk of narcotics. Plus, frequent use of opioids actually can worsen migraines, a concept known as rebound headache.
  • Just because a pregnant woman misses her due date, don’t race to induce labor if mom and baby are doing fine, say the obstetricians. Inducing before the cervix is ready often fails, leading to an unneeded C-section.
  •  Don’t automatically give a child a CT scan after a minor head injury, say the pediatricians. About half of children who go to the ER with head injuries get this radiation-heavy scan, and clinical observation first could help some who don’t really need a CT avoid it.
  • And don’t leave an implanted heart-zapping defibrillator turned on when a patient is near death, say the hospice providers. This technology clearly saves lives by guarding against an irregular heartbeat. But if someone is dying of something else, or is in the terminal stages of heart disease, it can issue repeated painful shocks, to no avail. Yet fewer than 10 percent of hospices have formal policies on when to switch off the implants.
  • The pediatrics groups suggested that children under the age of four should not be given cough and cold medication, and no oral antibiotics for acute ear infections, which will usually clear by themselves.
  • Other recommendations include restricting imaging the patient for lower back pain, unless the pain has not subsided for more than 6 weeks.
  • Additionally, cardiac screenings such as EKG’s should only be performed in patients who have heart symptoms.

 Hopefully, doctors and patients will pay attention to this list and put the recommendations to  use.  If so, this could translate into shorter wait times in the doctor’s office and less time waiting for procedures for those who actually need them. For the full list, click here.
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Source: Doctors Group Releases List of Medical Don’ts 

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