Choosing Wisely When It Comes To Health Care
Studies have found that an unnecessary service is provided in 1 out of every 5 doctor visits. Some medical tests, treatments, and procedures provide little benefit. And in some cases, they may even cause harm.
A national campaign called Choosing Wisely, spearheaded by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation, seeks to help patients and doctors identify ways to reduce wasteful health care. The campaign challenged several physician specialty societies to come up with “Top 5” lists of medical services that provide no overall benefit in most situations.
For example, the Infectious Disease Society recommends against routinely using antibiotics for upper respiratory infections, as most are caused by viruses which antibiotics are ineffective against. If a patient takes an antibiotic when they don’t really need it, it contributes to antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which then can cause serious infections that are hard to treat.
How to avoid unnecessary care
Saying “no” to medical care can actually be good for you. When any test is ordered, there is a small chance the result may be positive even if you do not have an issue. “False positives” like this can lead to expensive and invasive follow-up testing and procedures that is not needed.
Choosing Wisely starts with you having a conversation with your doctor to make sure you end up with the right amount of care — not too much and not too little. Here are some key questions you may want to ask your doctor before you get any test, treatment or procedure:
- Do I really need this?
- What are the risks?
- Are there simpler, safer options?
- What happens if I don’t do anything?
- How much does it cost and are there less expensive tests or treatments available?
To learn more about the Choosing Wisely campaign and to access patient-friendly resources, visit