According to the National Physicians Alliance, the 5 steps your family doctor can take to most likely improve the quality of care you and your family receive are:
- DON”T do x-ray, MRI, or CT imaging for low back pain within the first 6 weeks unless red flags exist for other serious conditions that present with low back pain. Low back pain in the 5th most common reason for a visit to the doctor.
- DON’T prescribe antibiotics for most cases of sinusitis unless severe, and symptoms of colored nasal discharge, facial pain, or dental pain last 7 or more days. Most cases of sinusitis seen in clinics are due to viral infections that will resolve on their own. Still, antibiotics are prescribed for 80% of these patients.
- DON’T order electrocardiogram (also known as EKG or ECG) for patients without cardiac problems or at high risk of cardiac problems. Without symptoms or being at high-risk, EKG testing is likely to cause more problems than it is likely to help.
- DON’T perform Pap tests for patients younger than 21 years (most abnormal results resolve on their own) or women with a hysterectomy without a medical history of cancer of the reproductive organs.
- DON’T use bone mineral density testing to screen for osteoporosis in women younger than 65 year or men younger than 70 years unless there is another medical condition that increases the risk of osteoporosis. Bone mineral density results have surprisingly little ability to identify a patient’s risk of fractures if the patient does not have a history of fragility fracture.
Being an educated patient and discussing your concerns with your doctor is the best way to ensure you get the best quality care possible. By avoiding unnecessary procedures and treatments you are less likely to experience adverse effects and help to keep health care costs down for everyone.
Richard Malik, ND