More than 100 members of the public and health-care providers attended the Choosing Wisely Nova Scotia public meeting on April 9 in Halifax to talk about the importance of conversations about unnecessary tests and treatments.
According to the Canadian Institute of Health Information, approximately 30% of all medical tests may be unnecessary. While there are benefits to necessary tests and treatment, when interventions are unnecessary, patients are at risk of harm, and the burden on the system increases.
A few people shared their stories, fearful that less testing will result in worse outcomes for some.
“Let’s be clear, this is not about less testing. This is about appropriate testing. What might not be an appropriate test for one person is an appropriate test for another,” said Dr. Constance LeBlanc, co-lead of Choosing Wisely Nova Scotia (CWNS) and associate dean of continuing professional development at Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine.
“Or rather than testing with the lowest level diagnostic test, it may make sense, given the patient’s condition, to jump immediately to a more expensive test,” she added.
Others were concerned, based on the current unfavourable health-care environment, that people can’t have conversations with their physicians, either because the physician doesn’t spend enough time with them for the patient to ask questions or the patient doesn’t have access to a primary care provider.
“There are many issues in the health system currently that will take some time to fix and at the same time, we are having these discussions to encourage people to be their own advocate and many physicians will welcome it,” said Dr. Sam Campbell, CWNS champion and chief of the Emergency and Trauma Centre at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.
One participant drove from Cape Breton due to his interest in the topic. CWNS will discuss hosting future public meetings in other communities across the province.