Choosing Wisely is part of a global initiative that has been implemented in a number of countries, including USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and some of Europe. It aims to help create a culture where patients and health professionals can have valuable, informed conversations about a patient’s care – avoiding unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures that may provide little or no benefit to a patient and could even cause harm.
Unnecessary tests do not add value to you or your whānau
Choosing Wisely promotes the four questions all patients should ask their health professional to help them Choose Wisely. These questions can help you make sure you end up with the right amount of care — not too much and not too little:
- Do I really need this test or procedure?
Tests may help you and your doctor or other healthcare professionals determine the problem. Procedures may help to treat it. Understanding why your doctor is considering a test – and weighing up the benefits and risks – is always advisable, and is every patient’s right and responsibility.
- What are the risks?
If you have – or don’t have – the test or procedure, what is likely to happen? Are there potential side effects? What are the chances of getting results that aren’t accurate? Could that lead to more testing or another procedure?
- Are there simpler, safer options?
Sometimes all you need to do is make lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier foods or exercising more. Or an alternative test or treatment that might deliver useful information, while reducing any potential negative impacts for you.
- What happens if I don’t do anything?
Ask if your condition might get worse – or better – if you don’t have the test or procedure right away.
This month we want to focus on helping you with communicating with your health professional.
Before your appointment
- Make a longer appointment if the problem you want to discuss is complex, or you need to discuss several issues.
- Prepare a summary of your health problems, prioritise the issues you want to discuss, and make a list of questions as you think of them.
- Let your health professional know if you need an interpreter or other assistance with communicating.
During your appointment
- You should expect to be listened to – and be given clear and adequate explanations of your condition, any recommended tests, treatment options and the expected results.
- When you describe your problems, be as accurate, complete and honest as possible.
- If your health professional recommends a test, treatment or procedure and you are not clear of its purpose or benefits, you may want to discuss this.
- Asking the following questions around potential tests or procedures:
- Do I really need to have this test, treatment or procedure?
- What are the risks?
- Are there simpler safer options?
- What happens if I do nothing?
- If you don’t understand anything, tell your health professional – and ask them to repeat or clarify the information until you do understand.
If you don’t feel confident about your appointment, take a family/ whānau member or friend with you. Take notes if you think you may have trouble remembering important details (or ask your health professional or support person to take notes for you).
If you want to know more, ask your health professional for some written information, or suggestions of where you might find it.
After your appointment
You may want to make a follow-up appointment to ask further questions, discuss continuing issues or talk to your health professional about your decisions after you’ve had time to consider the options.
If you want to discuss the issues with another health professional, don’t hesitate to get another opinion.
To find out more, click to visit our webpage Choosing Wisely.
In next month’s article, we will cover some common tests, treatments and procedures you may think you need and why you should think again.