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Are Numerous Medical Tests and Treatments Necessary?

April 23, 2014

If you have any sort of medical condition, there is a high chance you will have numerous tests conducted and treatments prescribed before doctors consider you healthy and restored. Under the impression that your doctor is always right, you may be willing to go along with the tests and treatments without question. However, your doctor is not always right. Sometimes these tests and procedures can be completely useless and even harmful. Now is the time to learn to question what your doctor might be suggesting and do some research to understand what tests and treatments are necessary for you.

According to a recent publication of CBC News, the Canadian Medical Association has launched a campaign against unnecessary tests and treatments called the Choose Wisely campaign. According to several Canadian medical groups cited in this publication, there are several tests and treatments that are completely unnecessary and cause harm to individuals. As a part of its Choose Wisely campaign, the Canadian Medical Association will help doctors and patients engage in conversations before any tests and treatments are suggested. This is believed to help patients make educated decisions about their health. These conversations revolve around possible tests and treatments available to patients while considering the pros and cons of each. The Association has also provided a list of some treatments and tests that it advises patients to question since there is evidence of potential harm, misuse and waste regarding these treatments. This list includes several common procedures like imaging for back pain, chest X-rays and annual blood test. Considered a major cultural change, this campaign is expected to face some challenges in execution phases since doctors usually treat patients with formal protocols instead of involving them in the treatment.

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It would be a major transition for them to start treating their patients as partners instead, giving them more control over their treatment options. However, there are several societies that are participating in the first wave of this campaign, including Canadian Association of General Surgeons, Canadian Geriatrics Society, Canadian Cardiovascular Society, Canadian Society of Internal Medicine and Canadian Orthopedic Association.  The transition, however, may also be difficult for patients who need to understand that they do not need medicines every time they develop a case of cough or cold.

Sometimes, it is hard to convince patients that the condition they are experiencing would get better on its own given some time; which is why they want instant health restoration, relying on medications and unnecessary treatments. Hence, collaboration with patients would be another major issue that CMA would have to deal with as a part of its Choose Wisely campaign. The next time you visit your doctor, become an active participant in discussing your condition and make sure the treatments he or she suggests are really necessary and not harmful before agreeing to them.

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