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Choosing Wisely: Doctors identify more than 130 tests and treatments they do too often

Choosing Wisely: Doctors identify more than 130 tests and treatments they do too often

Think your kid really needs antibiotics for that sore throat? That a Pap smear every year is a good idea? That testosterone will restore your love live? The answers for most people: nope, nope, and nope.

That’s the word from, respectively, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American Urological Association. And those are just three of more than 130 examples, from 25 medical societies, of tests and treatments that the societies themselves say are often performed but often unnecessary, and sometimes even harmful.

The topics have been gathered together as part of a project called Choosing Wisely. In it, each of the medical societies, which together represent more than 350,000 doctors nationwide, has identified five common tests or treatments that aren’t supported by sound research.

“Twenty-five of the nation’s leading medical specialty societies have now spoken up and shown leadership by identifying what tests and treatments are common to their profession, but not always beneficial,” says Christine K. Cassel, M.D., president and CEO of the ABIM Foundation, the organization spearheading the effort. “Millions of Americans are increasingly realizing that when it comes to health care, more is not necessarily better. Through these lists of tests and procedures, we hope to encourage conversations between physicians and patients about what care they truly need.”

Consumer Reports is participating in the project, too, by helping the societies produce videos and simple brochures explaining why the care isn’t necessary, how it can sometimes harm, and what patients should do instead. Read more about the Choosing Wisely campaign, a new special section where you’ll find links to the documents and videos produced so far, as well as the lists from each of the participating societies.

“We applaud the courage of the specialty societies for addressing overuse and encouraging informed patient-doctor dialogue,” says James A. Guest, president and CEO of Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports has covered some of the issues raised by the topics in our own reporting. For example, our recent article Cancer Tests You Need, And Those You Don’t we discuss, among other things, the new recommendations on Pap smears from ACOG. And our article What To Reject When You Are Expecting was recently updated to include information on the risks of scheduling babies for delivery before their due date without a good medical reason.

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