Vital Signs Blog

AMA, Joint Commission release strategies to reduce overused treatments

Ardis Hoven, AMA Hoven
A group of healthcare providers have recommended strategies to reduce five commonly overused and sometimes unnecessary medical treatments or interventions, such as the use of antibiotics for viral upper respiratory infections and early elective deliveries.

The recommendations were gathered at a 2012 summit and released by the American Medical Association's Convened Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement and the Joint Commission as part of a July 8 report.

The other recommendations address over-transfusion of red blood cells, tympanostomy tubes for middle ear effusion of brief duration and elective percutaneous coronary intervention.

“As part of our strategic focus on improving health outcomes, one of our goals is to contribute to the appropriate use of finite healthcare resources and this will help us achieve that goal,” Dr. Ardis Hoven, AMA's president, said in a statement.

Efforts to curb medical overuse are on the rise. Another initiative, the Choosing Wisely campaign, works with a broad range of medical societies to identify commonly ordered but sometimes unnecessary tests and procedures. The campaign earlier this year released lists from 17 medical societies and has published a list of 135 potentially unnecessary tests and procedures.

“We have created a medical ecology based on overprescription and overconsumption on the part of both physicians and patients. What Choosing Wisely has done is legitimize our ability to cut back on what's unnecessary,” a physician told Modern Healthcare in February.

According to the report released by the AMA and the Joint Commission, overuse “may result from many factors including payment incentives, time pressures, referral patterns, malpractice fears, patient demand, a culture that has a bias toward 'doing something' rather than not, and an inclination to use technology to solve clinical challenges.”

Overuse, even when it does not harm the patient, does raise questions about cost. The group noted that an estimated $1 billion is spent each year on unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions for upper respiratory infections in adults.

Both the new recommendations and the Choosing Wisely campaign suggest changes that have to do with antibiotic usage and early elective deliveries. 

Follow Jaimy Lee on Twitter: @MHjlee


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