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
- Do not perform a serum ACE for the diagnosis or monitoring of sarcoidosis
- Do not use oral beta2 agonists as bronchodilators in asthma, wheeze or bronchiolitis.
- For children with bronchiolitis without other co-morbidities, do not delay discharge from an inpatient admission based on oxygen saturations alone if saturations are ≥90%.
- Do not delay immunisation/s based on presence of mild respiratory symptoms in the absence of fever.
- Do not prescribe combination therapy (inhaled corticosteroids with long-acting beta2 agonist) as initial therapy in mild to moderate asthma before a trial of inhaled corticosteroids alone.
- Do not prescribe antibiotics for exacerbation of asthma.
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 Australian and New Zealand Society of NephrologyVisit page
The Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology (ANZSN) Clinical Policy and Advisory Committee worked with the RACP, 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, the list was condensed to the top-5 recommendations for reducing low-value practices in nephrology. Dr David Tunnicliffe has been the Lead Fellow on the project.
The list of recommendations was then subject to an extensive review process that involved key College societies with an interest or professional engagement with nephrology as well as health equity. It was then further consulted with other medical colleges through Choosing Wisely Australia. Feedback received in the consultations led to further research and finetuning of the list, which was then finalised and approved by the ANZSN.
The Australasian College of DermatologistsVisit page
- Do not routinely prescribe or recommend topical steroids Class II and above on the face including periorbital areas, or flexural areas of skin (axilla/groin and natal cleft).
- Review your diagnosis and/or treatment/adherence if patient has not responded to adequate prescribed topical steroids after two weeks.
- Do not recommend that patients take systemic non-sedating antihistamine for itchy rashes, i.e. eczema, psoriasis. Non-sedating antihistamines can be prescribed for urticaria according to the ASCIA guidelines.
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.
The Royal Australian College of General PractitionersVisit page
Recommendations 1 - 5 (April 2015)
All RACGP members were invited, and five GPs selected, to join the Choosing Wisely panel. They raised 28 issues, researched these and voted on a shortlist of 10. The voting for this shortlist was based on the amount of supporting evidence available, the degree of importance for patients, and the frequency of the test or treatment being used by Australian GPs. Opinion from the entire College membership was then sought via online survey, to choose five of the shortlisted 10. Additional free-text comment was encouraged, with good response rates. This national vote determined the final five topics.
Following an NPS Representatives meeting, two on that list were found to duplicate other Colleges' choices, and it was felt the RACGP could endorse these rather than replicate them. Therefore the next two highest voted options were selected instead.
Recommendations 6-10 (March 2016)
The RACGP Working Group established for Wave 1 of Choosing Wisely identified 32 candidate topics for Wave 2, then shortlisted fifteen, spread across four categories – screening, imaging, pathology and treatment. The shortlisting criteria were: quality of supporting evidence; importance for patients; and number of Australian GPs using the test or treatment. A dedicated workshop was held at the RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, ‘GP15’, and the entire RACGP membership was asked to vote for their ‘top five’ via online survey. Additional free-text comment was encouraged, with good response rates. The top five topics from this national vote were written up by the Working Group and reviewed by the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of RadiologistsVisit page
Clinical radiology recommendations 1-6 (April 2015)
A team of five Lead Radiologists were nominated to guide RANZCR's Choosing Wisely contribution. These Lead Radiologists analysed previous work completed by RANZCR, in particular a series of Education Modules for Appropriate Imaging Referrals.
These modules had been developed from an extensive evidence base and with multiple stakeholder input. Using the evidence from the Education Modules, the Lead Radiologists developed a draft recommendations list, which was then further developed and endorsed by RANZCR's Quality and Safety Committee, before being circulated to the RANZCR membership for consultation with a request for alternative recommendations. Member feedback was reviewed by the Lead Radiologists prior to ratification of the final recommendations by the Faculty of Clinical Radiology Council. The final six items selected were those that were felt to meet the goals of Choosing Wisely, i.e. those which are frequently requested or which might expose patients to unnecessary radiation.
Due to the fundamental role of diagnostic imaging in supporting diagnosis across the healthcare system, RANZCR worked closely with other Colleges throughout the project via the Advisory Panel. Following identification of two common recommendations with the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, it was agreed by both Colleges to present these items jointly.
Radiation oncology recommendations 7-12 (October 2016)
Recommendations relating to radiation oncology from the Choosing Wisely and Choosing Wisely Canada were circulated around the Faculty of Radiation Oncology Council to determine which recommendations were applicable to the Australian and New Zealand context. The selected recommendations were then put to the Quality Improvement Committee and the Economics and Workforce Committee, with each being asked to rank the recommendations.
The five highest ranked recommendations were then put to the radiation oncology membership for consultation prior to being formally approved by the Faculty of Radiation Oncology Council.
Recommendations 7-10 are adapted from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 2013 and 2014 lists. Recommendation 11 is adapted from Choosing Wisely Canada’s Oncology list. Each organisation was approached for—and subsequently granted—approval to adapt these recommendations as part of the Choosing Wisely Australia campaign.
The Australian Physiotherapy AssociationVisit page
The APA sought nominations from fellows and associates of the Australian College of Physiotherapy, directors of the Physiotherapy Evidence Database, clinical specialist APA members and academic physiotherapists to form an expert panel. The APA invited all members to submit evidence about interventions related to physiotherapy that should be questioned. From members’ submissions and the expert group’s research, the expert group formed a shortlist of 8 recommendations. The expert group then considered the shortlist in terms of the extent of the health problem, usage of the test or intervention, and the evidence that the test or intervention is inappropriate. From this analysis, the expert panel selected five recommendations to put to APA members. In a second round of consultation, the APA received nearly 2500 responses, and almost 900 comments. The expert panel then considered feedback and refined the recommendations. This resulted in the 6 recommendations put forward below, for which there was overwhelming majority support.
The Australia and New Zealand Child Neurology SocietyVisit page
- Do not routinely perform electroencephalographs (EEGs) for children presenting with syncope (fainting).
- Do not routinely perform computed tomography (CT) scanning of children presenting with new onset seizures.
- Do not routinely undertake repeat blood level monitoring of antiepileptic drug (AED) treatments.
- Do not routinely undertake neuroimaging for new onset primary headache without first examining for neurological abnormality.
- Do not routinely perform electroencephalographs (EEGs) for children presenting with febrile seizures.
Following deliberations, the ANZCNS Board determined to investigate the evidence for nine priority recommendations regarding low-value clinical practices in paediatric neurology. An evidence review was developed for these recommendations and served as the basis for an online survey sent to all ANZCNS members asking respondents if they agreed, disagreed or were unsure if these recommendations were evidence based, undertaken in significant numbers, and important in terms of reducing patient harm and unnecessary healthcare expenditure. Based on survey responses, each of the nine was assigned a score and ranked accordingly. Based on this information and a final evidence review, these top 5 recommendations were chosen.
Royal Australasian College of SurgeonsVisit page
RACS collaborated with General Surgeons Australia (GSA) and the Australian Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (ASOHNS) respectively on the development of lists for Choosing Wisely Australia. Each organisation worked closely with key members including the Sustainability in Healthcare Committee and Professional Development and Standards Board (RACS), and the Boards of Directors (GSA and ASOHNS) to develop the lists of tests/treatments/procedures for general surgery, and head and neck surgery.
RACP Paediatrics & Child Health DivisionVisit page
The Paediatrics & Child Health Division (PCHD) formed a group of interested Fellows to comprise a General Paediatrics EVOLVE Working Group. A review of low-value practices relevant to general paediatrics was conducted drawing on lists published by Choosing Wisely US and Canada, contributions to Choosing Wisely Australia by other medical colleges and published EVOLVE lists developed by other specialties in order to identify low-value practices of relevance while avoiding duplicating the mention of practices already identified in other EVOLVE lists. Based on this review, the Working Group shortlisted 15 items for further consideration.
These 15 items were then reviewed and discussed by participants at a workshop held at the RACP Annual Congress 2016. Following these deliberations, the list was further narrowed down to 10 items. These 10 items were incorporated into an online survey which also summarised the recent evidence on each of these items. A link to the survey was distributed to all Fellows and advanced trainees of the RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division.
Survey respondents were asked whether they agreed, disagreed or were unsure about whether each item was undertaken in a significant number of paediatric patients, whether there was good evidence that the item should be undertaken less often and whether reducing use of the item was important in terms of reducing harm and/or costs to the healthcare system. Each item was assigned a score based on respondents’ answers to these three questions on each item. There were 269 respondents representing a survey response rate of approximately 22 per cent. The five highest scoring items were selected to be on this ‘top-five’ list.
Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and AllergyVisit page
The RACP Strategic Policy and Advocacy group assisted ASCIA in compiling the original list of 25 tests, treatments and services, that have been identified either in past work by ASCIA, other literature reviews or in evidence reviews performed by overseas specialist physician bodies or health agencies as being overused, inappropriate or of limited effectiveness.
Two electronic surveys were sent to ASCIA members who are Fellows of the RACP (256 members in total) in February 2015 and March 2015, to firstly rank a top 5 from the list of 25, and secondly to review the wording and rankings of the top 5 recommendations. The overall response rate for these surveys was 20%. All ASCIA members and relevant patient organisations were then invited to review the list.
Australasian Paediatric Endocrine GroupVisit page
- Do not rely solely on bone age measurement for assessing growth in young children with short stature under 2 years of age.
- Do not routinely measure insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) for workup and diagnosis of childhood short stature.
- Do not initiate gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogue treatment in children outside of central precocious puberty, for the target outcome of delaying puberty and improving final adult height.
- Do not routinely prescribe aromatase inhibitors to promote growth in children with short stature.
- Do not rely on random measures of circadian hormones for diagnostic purposes.
A working group of lead clinicians from APEG brainstormed an initial list of 11 low-value practices in paediatric endocrinology and a preliminary review of the evidence for each was undertaken. An online survey was developed based on these 11 recommendations along with a summary of the evidence for each, and circulated to APEG members for their feedback. For each recommendation, respondents were asked to assign a score from 1 to 5 (where 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree) on two criteria: ‘The recommendation is evidence based’ and ‘The recommendation is relevant to paediatric endocrinology in Australasia’. Based on the recommendations which received the highest average total scores, and after a final in-depth review of the related evidence, the final top five were chosen and approved by APEG.
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 College of NursingVisit page
The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) as nursing lead, established a collaborative working party incorporating a diverse range of nursing expertise. Professional nursing bodies involved in initial collaboration included: Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM); CRANAplus; Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA); Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN).
ACN’s membership was consulted via publications, web site and ACN’s National Nursing Forum. This consultation provided a broad view from our members regarding planning and delivery of nursing care across Australia. An interactive session invited delegates to actively participate in identifying those nursing practices, interventions, or tests that evidence shows provide no benefit or may even lead to harm. This informative stimulating session examined a range of nursing practices and their effects on healthcare consumers.
At this point specialist nursing groups were approached for comment on our recommendations. This group included: Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC); Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA); Continence Nurses Society Australia (CNSA); Australian and New Zealand Urological Nurses Society (ANZUNS); Medical Imaging Nurses Association (MINA); and the Australian and New Zealand Orthopaedic Nurses Association (ANZONA). Final consultation with ACN Members and Fellows prior to submission ensured a collaborative result.