Wellington Scoop

Symposium to discuss over-reliance on medical tests and treatments

Press Release – Health Quality and Safety Commission
Health professionals from around the country will gather in Wellington on Thursday to consider how to reduce unnecessary tests and treatments.

The first Choosing Wisely symposium will focus on areas where evidence shows that a test, treatment or procedure provides little or no benefit to a patient and could even cause harm.

The symposium will feature a number of speakers discussing ways to help reduce the number of unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures.Choosing Wisely international chair Professor Wendy Levinson is a keynote speaker. Prof Levinson is also the chair and co-founder of Choosing Wisely Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

The Choosing Wisely campaign launched in New Zealand in December 2016, and is being facilitated by the Council of Medical Colleges in partnership with the Health Quality & Safety Commission and Consumer.

‘This is the first opportunity for people to really learn how they can put into practice the principles of Choosing Wisely,’ says Dr Derek Sherwood, ophthalmologist and chair of the Council of Medical Colleges.

‘Wendy Levinson has a long history of working with health professionals and New Zealand audiences can learn a lot from her experience in Canada.’

A recent survey of New Zealand doctors found that half thought the provision of unnecessary tests, procedures or treatments was a serious or somewhat serious issue.

The Council of Medical Colleges also worked with Consumer NZ to survey consumers about unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures. The survey found that when they visited a doctor, 56 percent of respondents generally expected the doctor to provide a prescription or send them for a test. Forty-one percent of these agreed some tests or treatments that are carried out do not benefit the patient in any meaningful way. Nearly one in five felt their doctor had recommended a test or treatment to them that wasn’t necessary.

Dr Sherwood says the use of X-rays and CT scans are an example of prescribed procedures which are not always required.

‘Both expose patients to potentially cancer-causing radiation and many studies have shown that scans frequently identify things that require further investigation but often turn out to be nothing. This means patients can undergo stressful and potentially risky follow-up tests, treatments and procedures for no reason.’

He says the campaign is not suggesting these tests, treatments and procedures not be used, as they are an important part of the care given to a patient, but that they should be reviewed with more careful consideration of what the particular patient needs.

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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