Even More Medical Tests You May Not Need

A group of medical organizations double the amount of tests that may be unnecessary or even harmful.

By: Melissa Romero

Last April, the Choosing Wisely campaign released 45 medical tests and procedures that physicians deemed unnecessary and potentially harmful. As promised, yesterday the campaign released another batch of procedures that are commonly ordered but thought to be a waste of time and money, bringing the number of questionable tests up to 130. 

Notable recommendations included the following:

1) Don’t perform routine annual Pap tests for women 30 to 65 years old.
Last year the American Academy of Family Physicians discouraged doctors from performing Pap smears on women younger than 21. This year, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists went on to say that in average-risk women, routine annual Pap smears do not offer an advantage.

2) Don’t automatically use CT scans to check children’s minor head injuries.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests to make a clinical observation before scheduling a CT for children with minor head injuries. Currently, about half of children who come to the hospital with head injuries are given a CT scan. The academy says that due to the radiation emitted, this further increases their risk of cancer.

3) Don’t schedule non-medically induced labor or caesarean delivery before 39 weeks.
Unless doctors deem it medically necessary, women should not have a C-section or have labor induced before 39 weeks of pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Family Physicians state that delivering prior to that mark increases the infant’s risk of learning disabilities and respiratory problems.

4) Don’t order antibiotics for pink eye.
Pink eye differs from bacterial conjunctivitis in that antibiotics won’t help, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Overuse of antibiotics can lead to the emergence of bacteria that don’t respond readily to available treatments.”

5) Don’t prescribe cough and cold medicines for children under four years of age.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, cough and cold medicines can have serious side effects for young children with respiratory illnesses. They typically contain more than one ingredient, “increasing the chance of accidental overdose if combined with another product.”

For the full list of tests and procedures, visit the Choosing Wisely campaign’s website