As we head towards winter, many of us experience little niggles, aches, pains and sometimes even more severe symptoms such as flu and other viral illnesses.
We often instinctively seek medical help, whether it be over-the-counter medication, or a prescription from the doctor. But it turns out that some of these treatments could be nothing more than a placebo, or worst, could actually be making things worse.
The above example is the tip of the iceberg, as the idea extends to even more serious illnesses and accidents. The Choose Wisely campaign, in collaboration with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, wants to reduce the number of unnecessary medical treatments.
They say sometimes self-healing is better than chemically induced treatments or medical procedures that could be potentially dangerous for your body. For example, around the age of 45 years old, a woman’s body starts going through changes. We may experience pain and distress as our hormones adjust. Up until now, doctors have taken blood tests to determine whether or not a woman is menopausal. However, it has become evident that the blood test is no longer necessary and is in fact a procedure that could be more distressful and painful the older you get.
Also according to Choose Wisely, a CT scan is 200,000 times more powerful than an airport scanner. Makes you think, right?
These examples are part of a list of 40 treatments that bring little or no benefit to patients, drawn up by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.
- If a child fell and hurt him or herself, tap water is just fine to clean the wound properly, there is no need to use saline solution
- Small wrist fractures in children do not need a plaster cast as using a removable splint would help the healing just as well
- Electronic monitoring of a baby’s heart during labour is only needed if the mother has a higher than normal risk for complications
- Using chemotherapy should only be used to relieve symptoms of terminal cancer not as an expectation that it will cure the disease. The treatment may actually bring more distress during the final months.
Click here for the full list.
All of this can feel quite scary, but it is clear that there is a cost to these treatments as well as them being a waste of time. This is money that could be used on more important and vital procedures.
Prof Dame Sue Bailey, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, told the BBC:
“Because I think what we’ve got is a culture of ‘we can do something, therefore we should do something’ and we need to stop and reflect and decide what is the best option for the patient in their individual circumstances.”
So ladies, ask yourself five key questions before engaging in a treatment that may well have a worse outcome than what you are going through now.
Is it necessary?
What are the risks or downsides?
Are there any possible side-effects?
Is there a safer option?
What would be the outcome if I did nothing?
Find out more: www.choosingwisely.co.uk
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