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Here's how to avoid unnecessary doctor's tests, prescriptions

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thursday, 20 December 2018, 8:21AM
The campaign also aims to provide some clarity for how patients can avoid undergoing unnecessary tests or prescriptions. Photo / Getty Images

A survey has revealed Kiwi doctors are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of over-prescribing medication following a campainged aimed at getting them to write fewer prescriptions.

The Choosing Wisely campaign was set up to address the issue of unnecessary medical testing, which ranges from over-prescribing drugs like anti-depressants, to un-called for surgeries carried out anyway.

Chair of the campaign Dr Derek Sherwood told Mike Yardley the two-year survey suggests they're making progress.

"We have been running this program for two years and when we first started we surveyed health professionals and also the public and at that time about 50 per cent thought this was a significant problem."

"I think now 70 per cent feel it's a problem and I think that's probably just greater awareness through the program to challenge health professionals to look at their practice an recognise that there are probably areas where they are doing tests that aren't actually a benefit to patients."

The campaign also aims to provide some clarity for how patients can avoid undergoing unnecessary tests or prescriptions.

Sherwood said it's important patients have a dialogue with their doctor.

"What we really want to achieve is that patients are more confident asking questions about their treatment."

"So, do I really need this test? What are the risks involved? Are there alternatives? What would happen if I didn't do anything?"

"This is questions about treatments, surgy, medical treatment and tests. We really want to get better conversations between patients and health professionals something that often doesn't happen."

He said patients are sometimes hesitistant to question their doctors but he said having an in-depth conversation is incredibly important.

He said over testing and prescribing medications has been a growing issue especially for areas of health care that are understaffed.

"It's something that affects all of us that are providing health care. It's very easy for us to, especially in a busy clinic, to tick a box and organise a test rather than actually spend time talking to a patient about what really might be the best way of investigating their problem and treating it."

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