Royal Australian College of General Practitioners President, Dr Frank Jones
"As GPs we have a unique opportunity to change patients' habits."
Choosing Wisely Australia launch: Dr Frank Jones
DR FRANK JONES:
We're very pleased to be in this initiative because as a GP we see about 80-85 percent of the population every year and we have this continuous relationship with our patients. We have an unique opportunity to change habits. It's nice just to take a breath in, have a look at what you're doing and we are trained as scientists and we should question each and every step that we take with our patients. But more important than any of that is to bring the patients on our journey with us because really it's about quality patient outcomes.
Many of my patients are on a medication for indigestion type problems, reflux where the acid comes up into the gullet and burns. And they have been discharged from hospital on occasion on high doses of this particular medication and they've been on it for an awful long time. Now we know that being on this medication can cause ill health down the track. It can affect your bones. It can affect other parts of your gut. It can also cause kidney issues.
Although they are particularly rare, they can cause ill effects. And so one has to ask, do you need this medication all the time to reduce the acid in your stomach? And the answer to that is no. It doesn't mean that you need a test or referral or a prescription for every ailment. And I think that's a conversation that GPs are uniquely placed to have because we know our patients.
Now as a flow on effect from that if we stop doing some of these unnecessary investigations and tests there may well be a benefit for the health economy of Australia.
So I think there's a win-win situation here but as I say the most important person in this equation is the patient.