A new report put out by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Choosing Wisely Canada suggests that Canadians get over one million unnecessary and potentially harmful procedures and tests done each year.
Uh, hold on a sec, doctor. What did you say that needle was for again?
Some of the most common unnecessary or otherwise ill-advised procedures include CT scans for minor head trauma, mammograms for average-risk women, insomnia medication for kids and extensive scans for minor back pain.
The report states that up to 30 per cent of the procedures they looked at across the nation may not have been needed at all.
“If we use resources doing things that are not necessary, what will happen for people waiting for necessary care? It’s a reason why the waiting lists are so long and it’s a reason why it’s so costly for the healthcare system now,” Dr. Laurent Marcoux, a family doctor and head of the Canadian Medical Association, told CTV News.
Not only are these unneeded procedures a strain on an already extremely busy system, but they’re tough on the patients, too. Many people can even be exposed to harmful materials, such as the radiation from an X-ray or CT scan, if treated unnecessarily.
In Alberta, for example, approximately 30 per cent of patients with lower back pain receive at least one unnecessary X-ray, MRI or CT scan each year. And in Ontario, 30 per cent of ER patients get CT scans for their low-risk head trauma. Insomnia medication is also being increasingly prescribed for patients aged five to 24 in several of the provinces, which is not recommended for most youths.
So what’s going on here? Are we being overly cautious with our health? Or are we being given treatments by medical professionals looking to grow that invoice? Either way, something needs to change.
“Saving money and doing things correctly is important, but doing things that aren’t necessary and harming our patients is worse,” said Marcoux.
You said it, doctor. Now, please, explain why we “need” that scan again.