The new listing of 45 common treatments patients and doctors should question is part of a growing movement that challenges routine care.
Next up: The upcoming Avoiding Avoidable Care summit, to be held on April 25 in Boston, will bring together more than 100 clinicians who will debate “the scope of the problem, its causes, the ethical dimensions, and its solutions,” said Shannon Brownlee, director of health policy at the New America Foundation and an organizer of the event.
Brownlee, author of the book “Overtreated,” called the “Choose Wisely" campaign by the ABIM Foundation a gratifying “step in the right direction.” But she also acknowledged the list of treatments is low-hanging fruit with obvious “no-no’s,” like ordering an MRI for uncomplicated lower back pain.
The list, which Deborah Shelton and I wrote about in today's Chicago Tribune, also avoided some controversial issues, such as how often to perform mammography screenings for breast cancer and whether prostate-specific antigen testing effectively screens for prostate cancer.
Still, the beauty of the ABIM campaign is that it empowers patients by encouraging questions about when a test is really needed.
“Patients ask for all sorts of cockamamie stuff that isn't good for them, or they don't need,” including MRI’s, CT scans and antibiotics, said Brownlee. “We've been well trained by pharmaceutical advertising and the media to think there's a pill for every ill and that anything new and shiny must be a life-saving breakthrough.”
The campaign also recognizes that, ultimately, it’s the doctorwho writes the prescription or orders the CT scan. “The fact that so many of the specialty societies are stepping up to the plate and in effect acknowledging the fact that they have been handing out a lot of useless treatment is a very big deal,” Brownlee said.
Brownlee is co-organizing the Avoiding Avoidable Care event with Dr. Vikas Saini, president of the Lown Cardiovascular Research Clinic. The event is co-hosted by the Institute of Medicine.