When it comes to medical tests and treatments, more may not always be better.

Unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures can take away from the value of care by leading to more testing to investigate false positives and contributing to stress for patients. Over-testing also puts a strain on the resources of our health care system.

Hear more about this from Dr. Mike Evans:

Screening tests

It’s tempting to ask for a slew of tests from your family doctor as a preventative measure. These are called screening tests, which are tests that are performed when you aren’t displaying any symptoms. In other words, nothing is wrong, but you or your doctor want the test just to be sure. These types of tests are sometimes batch-ordered during an annual physical exam. Screening tests differ from a test that’s performed if you have specific symptoms — say a strange lump, or it hurts when you pee — which is a different story altogether.

What’s the harm?

Performing blanket screening tests doesn’t really take into account your own unique risk factors, science and your personal values. Blindly doing a standard batch of screening tests every year often means over-testing low-risk people and under-testing those who have a higher risk of certain diseases.

Did you know? 70% of medical diagnoses can be determined by your medical history alone, without needing any tests. ~ choosingwisely.ca

Common screening tests include:

  • Thyroid
  • Vitamin D
  • Chest X-ray
  • ECG
  • Osteoporosis

Rethink the annual physical

The next time you see your doctor, consider the potential benefits of building a great relationship with them so any screening that’s done can be more personalized and targeted to match your individual needs. If you have a strong relationship with your family doctor and focus on practicing healthy behaviours like moving more and eating contentiously, these preventative steps can be even better for your overall health. Re-thinking your annual physical can mean fewer tests, meaningful communication with your doctor and improved health, which is better for everyone.

Talk to your doctor

Ask your doctor what you need and what you don’t. Four questions to ask your doctor:

  1. Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
  2. What are the downsides?
  3. Are there safer, simpler options?
  4. What happens if I do nothing?

Learn more at choosingwisely.ca

If you have 10 minutes, watch the extended version of the above video: