DOCTORS have identified 25 wasteful tests and treatments they say shouldn’t be given because they are costing Medicare billions of dollars each year — without improving patient outcomes.
Five specialty groups will on Wednesday unveil the “Choosing Wisely” list which tells doctors not to prescribe long term medicines like esomeprazole and omeprazole to beat heartburn and gastric reflux. These medicines cost taxpayers $450 million last financial year with more than 6.9 million scripts written for esomeprazole.
“The treatment is on the RACGP Choosing Wisely list because unnecessary long term use can potentially lead to adverse effects “says Dr Frank R Jones, President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists wants doctors to think twice before ordering X-rays and scans of the spine or head or ankle.
“Low back pain is the third most common health complaint seen by Australian general practitioners ... imaging for low back pain is not recommended for patients with non-specific low back pain, the majority of these patients,” says Dr Gregory Slater from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR).
The Australasian College of Emergency Medicine wants doctors to ensure very old and infirm patients understand the goals of medical care before expensive interventions are made and consider palliative care instead.
The Royal College of Pathologists Australasia says doctors should not order urine test for the elderly in absence symptoms, not order prostate screening in men with less than seven years to live or cholesterol tests for those with limited life expectancy.
The Australian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy warns about unscientific allergy testing and treatment which can be unreliable and usually comes at a cost to the patients.
“There is risk of potential harm if individuals with allergies are incorrectly diagnosed and inappropriately treated using alternative methods,” the college says.
The initiative is medical profession-led and is facilitated by NPS MedicineWise.
“The initiative challenges the notion that more is always better when it comes to healthcare. Australians can use their voice and ask what the risks are of a test, treatment or procedure,” says NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes.
NPS MedicineWise will carry out an evaluation to see whether the rates of these tests and treatments falls in the aftermath of the campaign.
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The Choosing Wisely implementation toolkit provides guidance on planning and carrying out an effective Choosing Wisely project for your health service.
Choosing Wisely Australia translated resources
Explore the translated versions of the 5 questions you should consider asking your doctor or other healthcare provider.