ABIM Foundation “Choosing Wisely”: Questions to Ask About Medical Tests

ABIM Foundation “Choosing Wisely”: Questions¬†to¬†Ask About Medical Tests

By Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S.
Posted September 30, 2014

How do you, as an individual consumer, know whether specific medical tests are necessary for yourself or for your family members?

In early 2012, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation initiated a campaign called, “Choosing Wisely.” The ABIM Foundation Choosing Wisely campaign encourages conversations between patients and medical doctors.

Since the ABIM Foundation Choosing Wisely campaign began, more than 60 professional medical groups, such as medical specialty societies, have joined the campaign. In this campaign, the medical doctors, themselves, are putting together lists of things that doctors and patients should question.

As an ABIM Foundation Choosing Wisely partner, Consumer Reports, the independent product-testing organization, is leading the consumer communication efforts of the Choosing Wisely campaign. Consumer Reports offers more than 70 Choosing Wisely brochures for patients.

The Consumer Reports Complete Catalog includes campaign videos and posters. For example, a Consumer Reports Choosing Wisely poster suggests, “Five Questions to Ask about Medical Tests before You Have Surgery.”

  • What are “pre-op” tests? Sometimes, before surgery, you will get medical tests, also known as pre-operative or “pre-op” tests.
  • Do I really need these tests? If you are having serious surgery, these tests can be helpful. But, if your surgery is minor, you may not need them. Ask your doctor or surgeon.
  • What are the risks? Ask if the tests might cause “false alarms,” or if they could lead to more tests, or a delay in surgery.
  • Are the tests different from the ones I had recently? As your doctor to check your test records from the last six months. If your condition has not changed, you may not need to repeat a recent test.
  • How much do the tests cost? Ask your doctor if the tests are part of your surgery expenses and whether your health insurance will cover the expenses.

“Choosing Wisely recommendations should not be used to establish coverage decisions or exclusions. Rather, they are meant to spur conversations about what is appropriate and necessary treatment. As each patient situation is unique, providers and patients should use the recommendations as guidelines to determine an appropriate treatment plan together.” – A note from the ABIM Foundation.

A disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

References

American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation. About Choosing Wisely. An Initiative of the ABIM Foundation.
(Accessed 22 August 2014)

American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation. Choosing Wisely. An Initiative of the ABIM Foundation. “Things Physicians and Patients Should Question.” “Doctor-Patient Lists.”
(Accessed 20 September 2014)

Consumer Reports. Choosing Wisely. An Initiative of the ABIM Foundation. ConsumerReportsHealth. “5 Questions to Ask About Medical Tests Before You Have Surgery.”
(Accessed 20 September 2014)

Consumer Reports. Consumer Health Choices. About the Choosing Wisely Campaign.
(Accessed 20 September 2014)

Consumer Reports. Consumer Health Choices. What We Offer. Our Complete Catalog.
(Accessed 20 September 2014)