Sometimes good medicine
is about what not to do.
With the help of the Choosing Wisely® program, health professionals and patients in Massachusetts are engaging in conversations that can help them make more informed decisions about procedures and treatments.
Knowing when and when not to opt for certain procedures can make it easier for health providers and patients to give and get care that is safe and effective. Choosing Wisely is currently focusing on imaging tests (X-rays, CT scans, MRIs) for lower back pain and uncomplicated headache.
“More care is not always better care,” said Matthew Collins, MD, Fallon Senior Medical Director. "This campaign promotes consumer engagement and a better understanding of how cost-efficient care is also quality care. Fallon will continue to encourage these provider-patient conversations.”
Imaging for lower back pain
These tests are used to guide diagnosis and treatment of many different medical conditions. In some cases, however, they are not needed and may in fact cause harm.
They can also lead to unnecessary surgery. In one study, people who had an MRI were much more likely to have surgery—which did not help them get better any faster.
Learn more about when imaging is appropriate for low back pain
Imaging for headaches
Most headache patients have migraines or headaches caused by tension. Both can be very painful, but a CT scan or MRI rarely shows why they occur. And the tests do not help ease the pain. Plus, X-rays and CT scans use radiation, which can have harmful effects over time.
Learn more about when imaging is appropriate for headaches
In addition to health concerns, there are economic issues. Image tests are expensive—as is the surgery they can lead to. Even with coverage, the effect is felt. Unnecessary procedures drive up the cost of medical care and premiums for everyone.
Studies have shown that much of the care delivered in America is duplicative or unnecessary.
According to Consumer Reports, most people with lower back pain feel relief in about a month, with or without an imaging test.
A doctor can diagnose most headaches during an office visit.