More is not always better. The same is true for medical tests and treatments.
How often do you question your doctor about the treatments they prescribe for you? Do you ask questions about the risk or potential harm of some treatments or discuss safer options?
If you don’t, you should.
The best health care always starts with a healthy conversation.
- Less than half of patients question their doctor when they think they have been prescribed something unnecessary.
- As much as 30 per cent of all health care in Canada is unnecessary.
- The amount of radiation in one full-body CT scan is equivalent to 200,000 airport scans.
- Superbugs are on the rise because of antibiotic overuse. Half of all prescriptions for antibiotics are unnecessary.
- Three out of four children with ear infections will get better without antibiotics.
- Headache is a common reason for getting a brain CT scan. However, only two per cent of scans reveal potential causes of headaches.
- Nearly one-third of older people in Canada take sleeping pills. These drugs cause confusion and memory problems, and increase the risk of car accidents.
- Many tests can give false-positive results, which can lead elevated anxiety, sleeplessness, negative behaviour changes and further unnecessary testing.
Talk to your doctor about what you need and what you don’t.
Four questions to ask your doctor:
- Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
- What are the downsides?
- Are there simpler, safer options?
- What happens if I do nothing?
Sometimes the answers to these questions will change the course of treatment you receive.
Sometimes it won’t.
Either way, you’ll leave the doctor’s office feeling confident about your treatment and informed about your unique circumstances.
The Choosing Wisely campaign aims to support physicians in having this dialogue with their patients. That’s what Choosing Wisely Canada is all about. It simply means better treatment, better access and better care.
For more information, visit bestcareforme.ca or choosingwiselycanada.org.