From the Summer 2014 issue of For Your Benefit pdf format of fybsummer2014.pdf
file size 2MB  newsletter

Emergency Room physicians have joined the dozens of medical specialty groups that have led the charge to identify unneeded medical tests and procedures as part of the Choosing Wisely® Campaign.  The American College of Emergency Physicians released its first list in the fall.  The American Academy of Family Physicians recently released its third Choosing Wisely® list.

These identified tests are routinely performed and often are not necessary.  Unneeded care harms your health and leads to more out-of-pocket health care expenses.  If one of the following tests is ordered for you or your child, ask the doctor whether the test is necessary for your own or your child’s condition:

In the Emergency Room:

  • Head CT scan for patients with minor injuries;
  • Urinary catheter to monitor fluid output in stable patients who can urinate on their own;
  • Delays in palliative and hospice care services for patients who are terminally ill;
  • Antibiotics for simple skin infections; and
  • Intravenous fluids for children with mild to moderate dehydration who can drink.

In the Physician Office (see Choosing Wisely®’s website for additional procedures):

  • Antibiotic prescription ordered for otitis media (middle ear infection) in children aged 2-12 years with non-severe symptoms;
  • Imaging for low back pain within first six weeks unless red flags, such as severe neurological deficits, are suspected;
  • Routine prostate cancer screening using a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test;
  • Scoliosis screening for adolescents; and
  • Scheduled elective, non-medically indicated inductions of labor or caesarean deliveries before 39 weeks.

Before any test or procedure is performed, ask the following:

  • Do I really need this test or procedure?
  • What are the drawbacks?
  • Are there simpler and safer options?
  • What happens if I do nothing?
  • How much does it cost?

Launched in April 2012, Choosing Wisely® was spearheaded by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation, together with more than 50 medical societies, to identify common tests, procedures and medications that may not be necessary or beneficial to patients. 

Consumer Reports has easy-to-understand brochures and videos to help patients on their website .  For a complete list of unnecessary tests and procedures, when screenings are appropriate, when they are not, and what the risks of performing these tests are, visit the Choosing Wisely website.

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.