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Information for patients and families

What is Choosing Wisely?

Choosing Wisely is an international campaign to help health-care providers and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests and treatments to ultimately aid in making smart and effective care choices.

The American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation launched Choosing Wisely in the US in February 2012. Partnerships with specialty medical societies led to the creation of ‘top 5’ lists of things physicians and patients should question based on best practices and evidence of overuse, waste, and, in some cases, potential harm to patients. Since 2012 the Choosing Wisely movement has grown from nine to 60 societies participating, with many releasing lists that are publicly available online. Nationally, Choosing Wisely Canada launched in 2014 and is organized by the University of Toronto, the Canadian Medical Association, and St. Michael’s Hospital.

Why have we implemented Choosing Wisely at SickKids?

As the Choosing Wisely movement in Canada had previously focused on adult medicine without any formal paediatric recommendations, the goal of the Choosing Wisely initiative at SickKids is to increase discourse regarding unnecessary tests and treatments through the development of recommendations that are specific to our patient population and that resonate with paediatric care providers at SickKids.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you know what's wrong with my child if you don't do a test?
Many conditions can be identified by a simple examination. While tests can confirm a diagnosis, many do not impact the care that is provided due to the long wait time for results. We will continue to conduct appropriate tests on children who require them; we have reduced testing for children who do not.

What if my child does need one of these tests, how dangerous are they?
All the tests that are identified on Choosing Wisely lists are safe for patients. However, they simply may not be necessary for as many patients as they are currently being used for. The idea with Choosing Wisely is for health-care providers to think more carefully about how they will use the information from a test, if at all. If it's not going to be used, better to avoid the test.

How can I engage in discussions regarding unnecessary tests and treatments with my provider?
Choosing Wisely Canada recommends four (4) questions to ask your health-care provider:

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

For more information see Choosing Wisely Canada