Choosing Wisely Yukon is part of a national campaign to improve health outcomes and open a dialogue among patients and health care providers about unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures. It encourages health care providers and patients to make smart and effective choices to ensure high-quality care.
Unnecessary tests, treatments, and procedures potentially expose patients to harm, lead to more testing to investigate false positive results. They can contribute to unwarranted stress for patients and their families and also consume precious time and resources. More is not always better.
Launched in September 2018, Choosing Wisely Yukon is led by the Yukon Medical Association (YMA) with the support of the Department of Health and Social Services, Government of Yukon.
The YMA’s collaborative approach engages with nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and other health care providers. Other key stakeholder collaborations include the Yukon Hospital Corporation, Yukon Registered Nurses Association, Yukon Pharmacists Association and Yukon Dental Association. Choosing Wisely Yukon focuses on educating the public and health care providers on how to use the values of Choosing Wisely in their practices.
The current areas of focus are:
For Yukoners: Often CT scans are not necessary. They should be recommended only for patients who are at high risk for skull fractures, brain lesions or bleeding in the brain. When not necessary, CT scans can expose you to significant radiation which increases risk of cancer and increases wait times for patients who require the CT scan.
For Health Care Practitioners: When not necessary CT scans expose patients to unnecessary radiation and increase wait times for patients for whom a CT scan is indicated.
For Yukoners: Nearly one third of older people in Canada take sedatives or sleeping pills. However, these medications are usually not the best solution and can have serious, or even deadly side effects. Did you know that these drugs can cause confusion and memory problems as well as changes in balance that double the risk of falls and hip fractures and increase the risk of car accidents? Try non-drug treatments first, like avoiding caffeine after 3 p.m., exercising, keeping a sleep routine, and talk to your health care provider about alternatives.
For Health Care Practitioners: The use of sedating medications in older adults to treat a variety of conditions (e.g., anxiety, insomnia, agitation) can significantly increase the risk of falls and other accidents, can accelerate the progression of dementia, and also cause cognitive impairment.
For more information on sedatives in the elderly:
For Yukoners: Bone mineral density testing is for identifying osteoporosis. Most people under 65 years of age do not have serious bone loss and should not need the test. The bone density scan exposes one to a small amount of radiation and radiation exposure can add up over your life, so it is best to avoid it if you can. You can keep your bones strong by exercising at least 30 minutes a day and by getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet, or with supplements.
For Health Care Practitioners: Because the bone mineral density scan is not available in the Yukon traveling south for this test can be an inconvenience and cost to the patient. The results of this test often do not change the treatment for patients and thus offers minimal benefit.
To help you start a discussion here are four questions (pdf) to ask your Health Care Provider.
Dr. Owen Averill
Choosing Wisely Yukon