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Five Questions to Ask Your Health Care Professional

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

The medical world can be intimidating for many. Doctors or medical staff often offer treatments or interventions that a large part of the population does not understand. Confusion is often exacerbated by the information we are given by the internet, our relatives, or the media, which is often contradictory, inaccurate or downright wrong.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges recently issued an opinion that 82% of physicians said they had prescribed or practiced a treatment they knew was not necessary. [1] The main reason given for this was patients’ expectations or the pressure exerted by them.

To reduce over-medicalization, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges encourages medical staff to keep in mind that “more is not necessarily better” when it comes to health and medical interventions. Sometimes not intervening is the best thing to do. It also encourages patients to obtain adequate information from treating staff.

Here is a list of 5 questions to ask your treatment team before any intervention:

  1. Do I really need this test, treatment or intervention?

  2. What are the risks and implications?

  3. What are the possible side effects?

  4. What are the alternatives?

  5. What will happen if we do nothing? What are the consequences or risks of not intervening?

By asking these simple questions, you will give the professional who is treating you the opportunity to explain the situation and explore with you the alternatives that exist.

Among the interventions that are considered unnecessary, there are:

  1. In women over 45, a blood test is not necessary to diagnose menopause.

  2. People who are particularly frail or at the end-of-life should discuss the possibility of reducing their medication to keep only those that control the symptoms.

  3. If a woman is concerned about polycystic ovaries, a blood test should be considered before imaging.

  4. If a person is taking statins at the prescribed dose, there is usually no need for periodic monitoring to check cholesterol levels.

  5. In children with flat head syndrome, wearing a helmet to correct the shape is not effective.

  6. In children with mild to moderate bronchiolitis, bronchodilators should not be used if there is no underlying condition.

  7. There is no need for an ultrasound to check if the baby is larger than normal during pregnancy unless the mother is diabetic.

  8. Chemotherapy can be used to relieve the symptoms of terminal cancer, but should be minimized if it is painful for the patient.

The list and details of these recommendations and several other recommendations can be found on the Choosing Wisely website.

It is important to discuss your treatment and possible alternatives with your caregiver. This will allow you to better understand the situation, take charge of your health and avoid unnecessary or risky interventions.

If you have any questions about your health, do not hesitate to contact us.

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