Tests, treatments, and procedures for healthcare providers and consumers to question
Australia's peak health professional colleges, societies and associations have developed lists of recommendations of the tests, treatments, and procedures that healthcare providers and consumers should question.
Each recommendation is based on the latest available evidence. Importantly, they are not prescriptive but are intended as guidance to start a conversation about what is appropriate and necessary.
As each situation is unique, healthcare providers and consumers should use the recommendations to collaboratively formulate an appropriate healthcare plan together.
The Thoracic Society of Australia and New ZealandVisit page
In 2018 The Royal Australasian College of Physicians worked with a Lead Fellow nominated by The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) to review evidence for 12 paediatric thoracic recommendations on low-value care in paediatric thoracic medicine. These recommendations were the subject of email discussions and deliberation by members of the Paediatric Special Interest Group (SIG) of the TSANZ. They were further discussed at a workshop held at a meeting of the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology in 2017, which included TSANZ members. Based on the feedback provided at this workshop and through email discussions with members of the SIG, four were removed and two of the original 12 were considered for inclusion in the final recommendations with overwhelming support. Members of the Paediatric SIG were then invited to choose three out of the remaining six through an email based poll. This served as the basis for final recommendations, which were further refined and developed through successive drafts based on the input of the Lead Fellow, the results of consultation with other specialty groups and the views of the TSANZ Board.
In 2020 TSANZ worked with RACP’s Policy & Advocacy team as part of the Evolve program to develop a long list of low-value practices and interventions that pertain to the specialty. Through extensive research and redrafting under the guidance of the TSANZ Central Office and members of the TSANZ Board, the list was condensed to the top-5 recommendations for reducing low-value practices in adult thoracic medicine. After several rounds of internal consultations and revisions, the list of recommendations was subject to an extensive review process that involved key College societies with an interest in or professional engagement with thoracic medicine.
Per usual processes, the recommendations were then consulted with other medical colleges through Choosing Wisely Australia. Feedback received in the consultations led to further work and refinements by Policy & Advocacy and TSANZ, which approved these top-5 recommendations.
The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of AustraliaVisit page
- Don’t recommend the regular use of oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) in older people.
- Don’t initiate and continue antipsychotic medicines for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia for more than 3 months.
- Don’t initiate and continue medicines for primary prevention in individuals who have a limited life expectancy.
A working party was formed and they sought suggestions from SHPA’s Committees of Specialty Practice, Reference Groups, State and Territory branches and Federal Council. More than 40 proposed statements were considered by the working party. A shortlist of 10 statements was identified for consideration by the SHPA’s membership through an online survey. All members were invited to comment on each proposed statement, specifically: whether it related to the practice of pharmacy, related to medicines that are frequently used, and if a significant cost. Members were also invited to rate the statements in order of preference. The survey results were used by the working party to identify the final six statements which were presented to SHPA’s Federal Council who ratified the choice of the five final statements.
The Royal College of Pathologists of AustralasiaVisit page
- Do not perform PSA testing for prostate cancer screening in men with no symptoms and whose life expectancy is less than 7 years.
- Do not perform population based screening for Vitamin D deficiency.
- Do not routinely test and treat hyperlipidemia in those with a limited life expectancy.
- Do not perform surveillance urine cultures or treat bacteriuria in elderly patients in the absence of symptoms or signs of infection.
A list of ten items was compiled after reviewing international literature associated with the Choosing Wisely campaign in Northern America. The College’s advisory committees were canvassed for further relevant evidence based literature and their expert opinions were sought.
The ten items were then adopted as a College Position Statement titled ‘Inappropriate Pathology Requesting’. This list was then sent to RCPA Fellows and Trainees based in Australia to rank the top five tests to include in the Australian Choosing Wisely initiative. The five items selected were approved by both the RCPA's Board of Professional Practice and Quality and the RCPA Board of Directors.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of OphthalmologistsVisit page
RANZCO has undertaken a multi-stage consultation process to ensure that the entire spectrum of medical eye specialists in Australia and New Zealand can contribute to the process of identifying and refining the top five recommendations. The first stage included a survey of fellows to identify possible recommendations, which were then narrowed down and by a dedicated “Choosing Wisely” committee of RANZCO members. A second survey was then sent to all members to provide feedback on the list of five and received a high response rate. Based on the extensive feedback received via the survey, RANZCO’s “Choosing Wisely” committee crafted the final wording of the top five recommendations. Finally, the RANZCO board discussed and approved the recommendations.
The Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and ToxicologistsVisit page
- Avoid using a higher or lower dose than is necessary for the patient to optimise the ‘benefit-to-risk’ ratio and achieve the patient’s therapeutic goals.
- Stop medicines when no further benefit will be achieved or the potential harms outweigh the potential benefits for the individual patient.
- Reduce use of multiple concurrent therapeutics (hyper-polypharmacy).
- Recognise and stop the prescribing cascade.
A working party of members of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT) was established to propose an initial list of recommendations. ASCEPT’s membership was then invited to participate in an online survey to comment on the appropriateness of the proposed recommendations and suggest additional items for consideration.
Based on the survey responses, six recommendations were shortlisted. Following an evidence review the top 5 list items were selected. The final list was signed off by the ASCEPT President in April 2016.
The Australasian College of DermatologistsVisit page
- Do not prescribe topical or systemic anti-fungal medication for patients with thickened, distorted toenails unless mycological confirmation of a dermatophyte infection has been obtained.
- Do not assume that bilateral redness and swelling of both lower legs is due to infection unless there is clinical evidence of sepsis such as malaise, fever and neutrophilia, plus an expanding area of redness or swelling over a period of hours to days.
College’s Expert Advisory Committee, comprising seven longstanding Fellows considered four potential recommendations, together with supporting evidence, and agreed to proceed with three of them. The Committee then refined and finalised the recommendations. These were reviewed by the NPS Representatives Committee and finalised in response to the feedback received.
Gastroenterological Society of AustraliaVisit page
The Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) initially engaged its members through its regular online communications, sharing the aims of the EVOLVE initiative, as well as background information on the US and Canadian versions of Choosing Wisely. Members were provided with a copy of the five recommendations made by the American Gastroenterology Association. GESA also consulted externally, with the EVOLVE Lead Fellow addressing the GUT club and the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Group on the initiative. All members of GESA were invited to submit proposed items for the Top 5 list. The GESA Council reviewed all items before reaching consensus on the recommended final list. A review of the evidence for the shortlisted items was then undertaken and the final list and its rationales were signed off by the GESA Council in May 2016.
Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health MedicineVisit page
With the assistance of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians as part of Evolve, the Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine (AChSHM) Council produced and distributed to its membership an online survey. The survey listed 5 examples of clinical practices in sexual health medicine which may be overused, inappropriate or of limited effectiveness in a given clinical context.
Members were asked to comment on these examples and to suggest other low-value practices which may be a sizeable issue in the specialty. Based on the feedback, 8 items were identified for further investigation by AChSHM Council through an evidence review. This resulted in the final list of 5 recommendations which were endorsed by the Council on 15 December 2016.
In July 2018 the Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine undertook a review of their Top-5 recommendations. Due to changes in evidence, and physician support, recommendation 5 was replaced. The removed recommendation read: “Reconsider the use of nucleic acid amplification testing for gonorrhoea in low-prevalence (i.e. <1% prevalence) populations and people who do not belong to a higher risk group.”
Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric MedicineVisit page
- Do not use antimicrobials to treat bacteriuria in older adults where specific urinary tract symptoms are not present.
- Do not prescribe medication without conducting a drug regimen review.
- Do not use physical restraints to manage behavioural symptoms of hospitalized older adults with delirium except as a last resort.
- Do not use antipsychotics as the first choice to treat behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.
- Do not prescribe benzodiazepines or other sedative-hypnotics to older adults as first choice for insomnia, agitation or delirium.
Members of the Australian & New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine completed an online survey asking them to choose the 5 most relevant ‘low value’ practices from a list of 11. Respondents were also asked to nominate any additional practices which they regarded as overused, inappropriate or of limited effectiveness in the specialty of geriatric medicine. A total of 196 responses were received.
The list of items were then subject to consideration by the Federal Council. Specifically, members of Federal Council were asked to rate each of these 16 items in terms of their strength in meeting 7 criteria: Is there a reasonable evidence base upon which to drive change? Are older people likely to benefit from work we might do to change practice? Is the problem sizeable? Are there opportunities and a willingness within geriatric medicine to lead practice change? Are there opportunities to collaborate with other organisations with a shared interest in the area? Will this promote a positive profile for ANZSGM? Is this an area of potential conflict with other Societies?
Based on the ratings they assigned to these items the ‘Top 5’ list items were chosen and reformulated as recommendations for clinicians.
Australasian Society for Infectious DiseasesVisit page
An initial list of 10 low value interventions was compiled by the Lead Fellow of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID) Inc following an online discussion in ASID's discussion forum, Ozbug. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) then facilitated a consultation of all ASID members via a survey distributed through the society’s e-newsletter. In the survey, members were asked to rank the 10 suggested interventions and suggest additional items for consideration. A subsequent shortlist of items was created by selecting the top 7 interventions as ranked by the members from the initial list.
The shortlist was sent to ASID’s special interest groups and selected members who had agreed to assist, who were asked to recommend the items to comprise the ‘top 5’. This final list was endorsed by ASID Council on 31 July 2015. The Top 5 was then circulated again to the ASID members for final comments before being signed off by ASID’s Executive Committee.
Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine & the Australasian Chapter of Palliative MedicineVisit page
- Limit routine use of antipsychotic drugs to manage symptoms of delirium.
- Target referrals to bereavement services for family and caregivers of patients in palliative care settings to those experiencing more complicated forms of grief rather than as a routine practice.
- To avoid adverse medication interactions and adverse drug events in cases of polypharmacy, do not prescribe medication without conducting a drug regime review.
Fellows from the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine and Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine (ANZSPM/AChPM) convened a working group to produce an EVOLVE list for palliative medicine. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) assisted this working group in compiling a list of 15 clinical practices in palliative medicine which may be overused, inappropriate or of limited effectiveness in a given clinical context based on a desktop review of similar work done overseas.
This list was then sent out to all ANZSPM and AChPM members, seeking feedback on whether the items fully captured the concerns of clinicians in an Australasian palliative medicine context and if not, whether any items should be omitted and/or new items added. 40 responses to this email were received. Based on these, 3 items were removed leaving a shortlist of 12. An online survey was then sent to all ANZSPM and AChPM members asking respondents to rate each item against three criteria from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest), and to nominate any additional practices worthy of consideration.
The criteria used to rate the practices were strength of evidence, significance in palliative care and whether palliative care physicians could make a difference in influencing the incidence of the practice in question. Based on the 114 responses to this survey, the top 5 were selected.