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Choosing Wisely Nova Scotia: Let’s Talk about Unnecessary Medical Tests and Treatments

Mary Jane Hampton (left) leads the panelists at the launch of Choosing Wisely Nova Scotia on Nov. 30 in Halifax. Doctors and patients discuss the importance of talking about unnecessary tests and treatments. (Photo credit Doctors Nova Scotia)

Yesterday, Doctors Nova Scotia and Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine launched Choosing Wisely Nova Scotia, a campaign to reduce unnecessary medical tests and treatments by encouraging health-care providers and patients to talk openly about more effective health-care choices.

Canadians undergo more than one million unnecessary tests and treatments each year, according to a recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Those include prescription drugs, diagnostic tests, and medical procedures that don’t improve patient health – and might incur unnecessary risks or harmful side effects.

There are multiple drivers of unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures. Dr. Constance LeBlanc, Co-chair of Choosing Wisely NS explains that sometimes patients ask for them. “In some cases it’s a lack of attention to shared decision making between patient and doctor, among other reasons,” she says. “However, those conversations are key to high-quality patient care.”

“More isn’t always better,” says Dr. Samuel Campbell, a Champion of Choosing Wisely NS, “Evidence shows that, depending on the situation, certain tests and procedures don’t help you get any better. They could even pose considerable side effects,” he adds. “Choosing not to do unnecessary tests is not only better for the patient, it also reduces wait times for patients who really need them.”

“Choosing Wisely is about choosing the right care at the right time with the best outcome for patients,” says Dr. Manoj Vohra, President of Doctors Nova Scotia, “The number of tests and treatments available keeps growing, but many are only useful in specific circumstances. In Nova Scotia, we’re reviewing the research and identifying which medical tests and treatments are overused.”

In the meantime, the doctor-led campaign calls on all health-care providers and patients to question common but potentially unnecessary tests that have been identified nationally.

“Conversations about what care patients truly need is a shared responsibility among all members of the health-care team,” said Wendy Levinson, MD, Chair of Choosing Wisely Canada. “Choosing Wisely Nova Scotia is an opportunity for providers and patients to talk about what care is best for them, and what we can do to reduce overuse, waste and potentially even harm.”

Choosing Wisely Nova Scotia is affiliated with Choosing Wisely Canada, and supported by:

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