When America’s joint surgeons were challenged to come up with a list of unnecessary procedures in their field, their selections shared one thing: none significantly impacted their incomes.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons discouraged patients with joint pain from taking two types of dietary supplements, wearing custom shoe inserts or overusing wrist splints after carpal tunnel surgery. The surgeons also condemned an infrequently performed procedure where doctors wash a pained knee joint with saline.
Scott Weingarten, chief clinical transformation officer at Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, says his hospital has embraced the Choosing Wisely recommendations by adding them to the computerized patient record system. When doctors order something on the list, they are warned by the computer about the procedure (Photo by Jeff Lewis/AP Images).
"They could have chosen many surgical procedures that are commonly done, where evidence has shown over the years that they don't work or where they're being done with no evidence," said Dr. James Rickert, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Indiana University. "They chose stuff of no material consequence that nobody really does."
The medical profession has historically been reluctant to condemn unwarranted but often lucrative tests and treatments that can rack up costs to patients but not improve their health and can sometimes hurt them. But in 2012, medical specialty societies began publishing lists of at least five services that both doctors and patients should consider skeptically. So far, 54 specialty societies have each offered recommendations and distributed them to more than a half-million doctors. Read more.