Choosing Wisely – Making the Right Health Decisions

Recently, the American Geriatrics Society partnered with American Board of Internal Medicine on an initiative called Choosing Wisely, which highlights “Ten Things Physicians and Patients Should Question.” The goal is to help patients become more involved in their health and work with their doctors in selecting care that is supported by evidence, not duplicative of other tests or procedures, free from harm, and truly necessary.

Two of the recommendations recently made for patients over 65 include:

  • When your physician prescribes a medication for you, please ask them to review your present medications to minimize any risks of side effects from drug interactions. (This is because older patients disproportionately use more prescription and non-prescription drugs, increasing the risk for side effects and inappropriate prescribing.)
  • There are some overdiagnosed screening tests for the elderly that may result in overtreatment and cause needless suffering for circumstances that may never become a problem. You should speak with your primary care physician about ordering screening tests for breast or colorectal cancer, or prostate cancer with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) especially after the age of 75. Ask your physician whether these tests are appropriate for your age and medical conditions. (Cancer screening is associated with short-term risks, including complications from testing, overdiagnosis and treatment of tumors that would not have led to symptoms.)

The complete list of 10 Choosing Wisely recommendations by the American Geriatrics Society can be found at this link: www.choosingwisely.org/doctor-patient-lists/american-geriatrics-society/
Since every medical situation is unique, physicians and patients should use these recommendations only as guidelines for determining appropriate care. Always be sure to talk with your doctor or advanced practitioner about how best to meet your personal healthcare needs.

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