4 Questions You Should Always Ask Your Doctor

Take a second and ask yourself: have I had a medical test or treatment in the past year I may not have needed?

A recent report estimates that 30% of medical tests, treatments and procedures in Canada are potentially unnecessary. That’s more than one million medical tests and treatments every year that might not be needed.

More is not always better

There’s no value for patients in taking unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures. It can lead to pointless and potentially harmful investigations – even surgery – and cause stress for patients and their families, not to mention waste valuable health-care resources.

This is also true in pediatric medicine. For example, recent reports show routine medical imaging is being carried out too frequently in Canada and the U.S.

It’s always worth asking, “Do I really need this?” as well as, “what are the risks?”

A shared responsibility

In the past, patients have relied on the knowledge and experience of doctors for their health-care needs. However, patients today are more engaged with their own heath and recognize that nobody – not even a highly trained medical professional – knows everything that’s going on with their own health. It’s a shared responsibility.

Led by Doctors Nova Scotia and the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine, Choosing Wisely Nova Scotia is part of a national program dedicated to reducing unnecessary tests and treatments in health care. Engaging both health-care professionals and patients, the program provides simple tools and resources that make it easier for people to make smart choices and reduce overmedication.

In the midst of a national opioid crisis, and growing concern over the over prescription of antibiotics, this work is timely.

Discuss the options together

Having a conversation with your doctor about your health care is the first step. Here are four questions you should always ask your doctor before going ahead with any test or procedure.

  1. Do I really need this test, treatment, or procedure?
  2. What are the downsides?
  3. Are there simpler, safer options?
  4. What happens if I do nothing?

Discussing your options not only helps you take a more active role in your health, but will also help ensure that you get the correct care, at the right time, for the best outcome. For more information about Choosing Wisely, visit choosingwiselycanada.org.

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