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Choosing Wisely is a Courageous Act
On April 4th, nine specialty societies will present lists of frequently performed tests and procedures that lack clinical evidence of their effectiveness – a poor use of limited health care resources. These specialty societies and the eight additional ones whose lists will be announced in the fall should be applauded for their great courage for taking this important first step in addressing the issue of sustainability and overuse of medical tests and procedures.
The Oxford Dictionary defines courage as “boldness and bravery.”
When I think about courage, I think about those who choose to travel down the more difficult path of doing what’s right when the easier path of least resistance begs them to walk its trail. Courage is speaking up when it’s the right thing to do, regardless of the personal implications.
Why are these specialty societies acting courageously in developing these lists?
1) They are doing what is right by announcing these lists to the public and their members without certainty of the reaction they will receive.
2) They have a lot of experience in developing clinical guidelines and appropriate criteria but most have not developed such lists previously.
3) Helping their members understand the implications of these lists will take courage. Presenting their lists at meetings and in communication will be important. Some members will applaud them for participating and some (a minority) may not.
4) They have developed new partnerships with organizations, such as Consumer Reports and the consumer/employer members of the campaign, that most have not previously had.
5) Developing conversations among physicians and between patients and physicians about issues of optimal care and unnecessary care will be difficult.
Our goal with the Choosing Wisely campaign is to improve health care quality. We thank the specialty societies for their courage and leadership.
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