Waste. It’s everywhere. As frontline doctors, we have the responsibility to focus our efforts on high-value healthcare and reject the interventions that provide negligible benefit. Choosing Wisely Australia, in partnership with the professional colleges, has compiled a list of recommendations to decrease the provision of low-value healthcare.
Here are 5 of the Choosing Wisely recommendations to incorporate into your clinical practice.
“Avoid coagulation studies in emergency department patients unless there is a clear defined specific clinical indication, such as monitoring of anticoagulants, in patients with suspected liver disease, coagulopathy, or in the assessment of snakebite envenomation.” – Australasian College for Emergency Medicine
Unless it will change management, don’t request it.
“Don’t request any diagnostic testing for suspected pulmonary embolism (PE) unless indicated by Wells’ Score (or Charlotte Rule) followed by PE Rule-out Criteria (in patients not pregnant). Low-risk patients in whom diagnostic testing is indicated should have PE excluded by a negative D dimer, not imaging.” – The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists
The Wells’ score is well validated and easy to use. It is available on the MedCalc app which can be downloaded to your phone.
“Avoid prescribing antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infection.” – Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases
“Don’t request imaging for acute ankle trauma unless indicated by the Ottawa Ankle Rules.” – Australian Physiotherapy Association
Again, clinical examination is key. The Ottawa ankle rules have a 100% and 98% sensitivity for significant malleolar and midfoot fractures, respectively . This means 100% of patients who are negative for the Ottawa ankle rules will not have a significant malleolar fracture!
“Don’t perform imaging for patients with non-specific acute low back pain and no indicators of a serious cause for low back pain.” – The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists
Low back pain is ubiquitous in the emergency department. Know your red flags, perform a thorough lower limb neurological exam and do your best to avoid imaging.
It falls upon each and every one of us to ensure the ongoing sustainability and longevity of our healthcare system.
By making small changes – small nudges – towards rational investigating, prescribing and procedural intervention, we can ensure future generations are able to access the same healthcare opportunities that we are privy to today.
As the next generation of practitioners, we can make change.
We can choose wisely.
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