Vital Signs Blog

Specialists to release list of overused tests, procedures

A number of major medical specialty medical societies are preparing to release new lists of tests and procedures they deem to be unnecessary or potentially harmful, as the third installment of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation's “Choosing Wisely” campaign, the foundation announced Wednesday.

Beginning in September and continuing through March, more than 30 national specialty physicians' groups will release lists of services they consider overused.

Launched in April 2012, the Choosing Wisely initiative is an effort by medical and consumer groups to open a dialogue between doctors and their patients about treatment options in order to make better, more cost-effective decisions about care. Thus far, the campaign has identified more than 130 tests and procedures as potentially harmful or unnecessary.

Some of the specialty groups expected to present lists include the fields of psychiatry, rheumatology, oncology and emergency medicine. The only medical groups that previously released lists are the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Rheumatology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Academy of Allergy, the Asthma & Immunology, and the American Geriatrics Society. It wasn't clear at the start of the campaign how broad the participation of medical societies would be.

“When the Choosing Wisely campaign was launched in 2012, we were at the threshold of a national dialogue on waste and overuse in our health care system,” said ABIM Foundation pres and CEO Dr. Richard Baron. “Thanks to the leadership of physician groups and consumer partners, the campaign has inspired conversations about what care is truly necessary in doctors' offices, communities, hospitals and health systems across the country.”

Past recommendations included avoiding elective, non-medically indicated induction of labor between 39 weeks and 41 weeks; not ordering antibiotics for apparent viral respiratory illnesses in children; and not performing CT scans for evaluating a suspected case of appendicitis in children until after an ultrasound test.

The first of the new lists are scheduled to be released on Sept. 4, and will include recommendations from the American Medical Directors Association, the American College of Surgeons and the college's Commission on Cancer.

Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHSjohnson


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