It’s not a surprise to anyone that all medical tests and procedures are not created equal. Some tests are more accurate, others less so. Some medications are very effective, and others not so much depending on the situation. With this in mind, the American Board of Internal Medicine and its associated specialties have recently developed some lists for consumers of what’s not so useful – with the idea being to eliminate unnecessary tests and procedures.
The program, called “Choosing Wisely” is an effort of more than 500,000 physicians, 26 physician specialty groups and the “Consumer Reports” organization. They’ve developed lists called “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question” on topics from asthma to cold-treatments, from heart testing to testosterone supplementation. It’s worth a look, especially before a trip to the doctor.
For example, do healthy people really need a chest X-ray before outpatient surgery? In the old days, this was routine. Now the evidence shows that, for most asymptomatic, healthy people, it’s not needed and that the X-ray doesn’t add any useful information.
And while consumers in the U.S. are a bit used to walking into their family doctors office and demanding antibiotics for a viral head cold, it’s really time to start looking at the science, and asking “Is this really the best treatment?” Not only can we avoid side effects and complications, it might save you a few dollars, too.