Consumers and carers

Without the ‘five questions’, it could have been a disaster

Many Australians are taking more medications than they need - and putting themselves at unnecessary risk.

John Johnette
John and Johnette

Hunter New England Local Health District in NSW is a keen supporter of Choosing Wisely Australia. At a community meeting, local resident Johnette described how Choosing Wisely had helped her family.

From the age of 11, Johnette’s partner suffered from blood flow issues to his legs, causing skin conditions for which he had all sorts of treatments over the years. Recently his GP had referred him to a vascular surgeon.

The consultation with the surgeon did not start well with another person’s file being referred to and the surgeon describing in vivid terms the procedure that would occur. This made Johnette and her partner confused and worried. Fortunately, Johnette had taken along with her Choosing Wisely’s ‘5 Questions to ask your doctor’, which she had picked up at a community forum run by her health service.

‘When we asked about the risks of surgery the specialist said that surgery has risk factors but he could not be specific,’ Johnette explained.

‘As to safer options, the specialist recommended surgery but suggested compression stockings as an alternative, however this was contrary to previous advice we had received. And when we asked about cost he was not clear. He told us to go away and think about it and make another appointment in six weeks if we wanted to proceed. The surgeon was clearly annoyed by my questions. We never went back to him. We discussed our situation with our GP and asked for a referral to another surgeon who advised against any surgical intervention due to the severity of scarring to John’s blood vessels.' He is under the treatment of a skin specialist, and doing well.

Thank God for those five questions, or John’s outcome could have been disastrous.

5 Questions

5 questions to ask your doctor or other healthcare provider to make sure you end up with the right amount of care.

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