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Choosing Wisely New Brunswick: Taking action against unnecessary tests and treatments

The New Brunswick Medical Society has officially launched Choosing Wisely New Brunswick, a campaign to help clinicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests and treatments, and make smart and effective care choices.

Canadians have more than one million unnecessary medical tests and treatments each year, according to a recently released report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Unnecessary care could be a prescription drug, a diagnostic test or a medical procedure that does not improve a patient’s health outcomes and is not backed by the best available evidence. It might also involve risks and harmful side-effects.

“More isn’t always better when it comes to health care. Unnecessary tests and procedures do not add value to care and can potentially harm patients, while contributing to longer wait times and wasting health system resources,” says Dr. Robert Boulay, Chair of the Choosing Wisely New Brunswick Steering Committee.

The clinician-led campaign encourages physicians and patients to question common and potentially unnecessary care that have been identified by national specialty societies in their Choosing Wisely lists. Provincial priorities have been identified and include: imaging for lower back pain; antibiotics for viral infections; preoperative tests for low-risk procedures; and antipsychotic medication and sleeping pills for seniors.

Patients can help start a conversation about unnecessary care by asking their care provider four key questions: Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure? What are the downsides? Are there simpler, safer options? What happens if I do nothing?

“Choosing Wisely New Brunswick is an example of patient-centred care that not only benefits the patient, but also the healthcare system,” says Dr. Dharm Singh, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society, “As each patient situation is unique, clinicians and patients need to determine an appropriate treatment plan together.”

The campaign is being led by the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) and works collaboratively with Réseau de santé Vitalité, Horizon Health Network, Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick College of Family Physicians, the Centre de formation médicale Nouveau-Brunswick (CFMNB), the New Brunswick Department of Health, the New Brunswick Health Council and patients.

“Conversations about what care patients truly need is a shared responsibility among all members of the health care team,” said Dr. Wendy Levinson, Chair of Choosing Wisely Canada. “Choosing Wisely New Brunswick is an exciting opportunity for providers and patients across the province to engage in a conversation about what care is best for them, and what we can do to reduce overuse, waste and harm.”

Media Contact: Cara Smith, New Brunswick Medical Society, (506) 462-4677, media@nbms.nb.ca