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Monday, 15 May 2017 05:41

Choosing wisely: Clinician-led campaign focuses on reducing unnecessary tests and treatments

Written by  Cypress Health Region
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Physicians and health-care providers in the Cypress Health Region are participating in a national campaign focused on engaging in conversations with patients about unnecessary tests and treatments. 


The Choosing Wisely initiative calls on clinicians and patients to make smart and effective choices to ensure high-quality care and was officially launched in Saskatchewan on May 5 in Saskatoon.
“On the front lines of medicine, we know that we have the opportunity to improve the care that we deliver by engaging our patients in healthy conversations about what care is really necessary and beneficial to their health,” commented Dr. Kevin Wasko, family physician and president of the Cypress Regional Medical Association. “The Choosing Wisely campaign provides valuable information to help both patients and clinicians have meaningful conversations about treatment options. We need to think twice before ordering tests and treatments and we must work together to dispel the notion that more care automatically means better care.”
The Choosing Wisely campaign is built upon a growing list of tests, treatments, and procedures for which there is strong evidence of overuse, waste, or even possible harm to patients. Examples include overprescribing antibiotics and other medications, over-reliance on diagnostic imaging, and performing annual exams on healthy individuals. 
Research indicates 70 per cent of medical diagnosis can be determined by your medical history alone without needing any testing. Having a long-term relationship with a family physician is in itself a form of medical screening.
Dr. Clare Kozroski, a family physician practising in the community of Gull Lake, is one of many physicians in the Cypress Health Region who are fully supportive of the goals of Choosing Wisely.
“Having conversations about what care patients truly need is a shared responsibility amongst all members of the health care team and it’s important for this dialogue to take place,” she noted. “There are many examples of tests being ordered, or treatments and procedures being performed where evidence overwhelmingly shows that they will provide no benefit to the patient. These unnecessary tests and treatments not only carry no benefit, they can introduce patients to potential harm.”
Patients who have concerning symptoms will continue to receive appropriate medical care, including necessary tests and treatments that their physician, nurse practitioner, or other healthcare professional requires or recommends.
“Choosing Wisely is a change in culture just as much as it a change in practice. Medical tests are not perfect and are not black and white. Performing screening tests on patients who are without any symptoms may uncover illnesses, however they can also misdiagnose and send patients down a path of unnecessary and often invasive procedures,” added Wasko.
The Health Region, working alongside Choosing Wisely Saskatchewan, will focus on a number of important health topics to help educate patients and providers over the coming months using available toolkits from Choosing Wisely Canada. 
This information will help patients engage in meaningful, healthy conversations with their health-care providers about the care that they require.
For more information on the Choosing Wisely initiative visit http://hqc.sk.ca/improve-health-care-quality/appropriateness-of-care/ or http://www.choosingwiselycanada.org/.

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