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In past articles, I had discussed the importance of patients empowering them- selves and working with their doctors to improve their health care.
There is now a campaign called Choosing Wisely, which started in spring of 2012. It is gaining momentum and support from the nation’s doctors and specialty groups.
It was started by the American Board of Internal Medicine and it was started to stimulate conversations between doctors and patients regarding the delivery of health care. The goal is to have patients and doctors discuss tests and procedures to make sure that the choices are appropriate and provide safe and effective health care.
Along with the American Board of Internal Medicine doctors, nine other specialty societies released their guidelines.
In February 2013, my specialty society, The American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (ear, nose and throat society) released the five things they feel will improve patient care.
This concept of working together is very important in this day and age, where we have an aging population more likely to be ill and limited resources of health care delivery.
The idea is doctors and patients working together can make smarter decisions, and it also adds to the safety of the health care system in the United States. As the delivery of health care in this country becomes more of a challenge, it is important that we maintain our goals of high quality care being delivered safely.
Some research in Washington suggests up to 30 percent of health care dollars goes toward unnecessary testing procedures, and hospital stays that do not really affect the patient’s health quality — and in some instances may even harm the patient. This is why open discussion about health care between the patient and the doctor needs to be carried out.
The entity Consumers Reports is also getting involved to translate these lists and guidelines into plain English so the patient can understand the information. They also provide educational materials to help the patient’s understand decision-making processes with their doctor.
My specialty society has initially selected several items that should be openly discussed with doctors if proposed, and this includes the use of scanning such as CT or MRI for things like sudden hearing loss, dizziness and hoarseness.
Other items that have been highlighted as important problems include the overuse of antibiotics for middle and external ear infections. The use of X-rays and scans for evaluating uncomplicated sinus infections also is discouraged.
This campaign is likely to get more participants.
A third phase of specialty societies will likely release their guidelines later this year. Efforts such as these will continue and only strengthen the excellent health are delivery system we have in this country.
Denis Grillo, D.O., FOCOO, is an ear, nose and throat specialist in Crystal River. Call him at 352-795-0011 or visit CrystalCommunityENT.com.