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Promoting Best Practices in Women’s Health: The Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists of Canada

The Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) is one of the largest national clinical specialty societies in Canada. With over 4,000 members, the society represents obstetricians, gynaecologists, family physicians, nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals working in the field of sexual and reproductive health.

The SOGC is a leading expert in promoting best practices in obstetrics and gynaecology to advance women’s health. Their commitment to evidence-based care made for a strong partnership with Choosing Wisely Canada. Leveraging existing clinical practice guidelines developed by members, the SOGC released the list of recommendations, Ten things physicians and patients should question in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in June of 2017.

The SOGC believes the list is an important step in advancing and aligning efforts to reduce overuse with existing quality and patient safety activities in obstetrics and gynaecology. “Choosing Wisely is important to our members because the right test or treatment at the right time is essential to practicing high-quality care in obstetrics and gynaecology. Although our guidelines provide evidence for what to do as well as what not to do, we tend to focus on the what to do” says Dr. Jennifer Blake, Chief Executive Officer of the SOGC. “That’s where the Choosing Wisely recommendations come in – to support members on when treatments are not evidence-based and should not be prescribed.”

Echoing Dr. Blake’s sentiments, Dr. George Carson, Past President of the SOGC shared “Choosing Wisely is important because we have always tried to offer care recommendations based on the best applicable relevant evidence, consistent with the patient’s situation and values. That includes avoiding things that may not provide benefit and may even cause harm” said Dr. Carson, “This also conserves finite resources to be available for the care of all of our patients.”

Since the launch of the recommendation list in June of 2017, there have been over 8,000 visitors to the Obstetrics and Gynaecology page on the Choosing Wisely Canada website, demonstrating the community’s interest in obstetrics and gynaecology related recommendations.

To provide patients and the general public with a better understanding of tests and treatments overused in obstetrics and gynaecology, the SOGC co-authored an opinion piece on unnecessary tests and treatments in women’s health written by Dr. George Carson, Past President of the SOGC, and Dr. Wendy Levinson, Chair of Choosing Wisely Canada. The opinion editorial was published by various national and regional media outlets and served to highlight the need for culture change around topical issues in obstetrics and gynaecology, such as unnecessary episiotomies and routine cervical cancer screening in low-risk women.

Maintaining the Momentum

Building on the momentum of the list and opinion editorial, the SOGC has recently announced a new Choosing Wisely journal series in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada (JOGC). The SOGC will share Choosing Wisely related articles on a biannual basis featuring topical issues in obstetrics and gynaecology. The first two publications of the series were released June 1, 2018 on how the top ten recommendation list was created and blood work for preeclampsia.

The SOGC hopes this journal series will keep members engaged in the campaign and continue their commitment to leading best practices in obstetrics and gynaecology.

“We started the journal series because we know that with so many competing priorities, it is easy to lose momentum or to lose sight of the one-off.” says Dr. Blake. “The journal is the platform where we publish our research and our guidelines, where we go for the evidence, and for debating it. It embeds the Choosing Wisely thinking into our established scientific discourse, keeping it top of mind.”

In addition to the journal series, the SOGC has added a new Choosing Wisely stream to their annual meeting focused on educating members on unnecessary tests and treatments. The many initiatives the SOGC has undertaken within the short time since their Choosing Wisely list was released makes it clear that they are setting out to embed the campaign into the core activities of the society. Choosing Wisely is proud to have a strong partner in the SOGC and reducing overuse specifically in women’s health in Canada. We look forward to an ongoing future collaboration and bringing new life into a continuously improving health care system.

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