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Older people encouraged to consider medical tests

Older people encouraged to consider whether they really need that medical test

Embargoed until 12.01am 1 October 2018

Medical colleges are urging older people to consider whether they really need that test, treatment or procedure, on International Day of Older Persons.

The Council of Medical Colleges coordinates the Choosing Wisely campaign, which cautions against unnecessary medical intervention.

Campaign chair Dr Derek Sherwood says more isn’t always better when it comes to medical tests, treatments and procedures.

“Unnecessary interventions are stressful, and potentially expose patients to harm, leading to more testing to investigate false positives.

“It is natural that we need more health care as we age. But that doesn’t mean we should say yes to every test or medication offered. Consumers should not hesitate to ask health professionals about the risk of a test, treatment or procedure; what the other options are; and what would happen if they just do nothing.

“For example, older people are often on a number of medicines – sometimes too many. Recent research[1] found that older people taking high-risk medications are twice as likely to fall and break bones, with up to a third dying within a year of being injured.

“Some medicines can cause side effects such as feeling dizzy when standing up, feeling sick, not thinking clearly and having blurred eye sight. These side effects can also make you unsteady on your feet, increase the risk of falling, and can affect driving.”

Dr Sherwood says it is important older people get their medicines reviewed regularly.

“This helps make sure you are receiving the best treatment. When a doctor or pharmacist reviews your medicines they will check things like what medicines you are taking and why, how many different medicines you are taking and any side effects you may be experiencing.”

Choosing Wisely is run by the Council of Medical Colleges, with partners Consumer NZ and the Health Quality & Safety Commission. Its sponsors are Southern Cross Health Society, PHARMAC and Pacific Radiology. It has wide health sector support.

Find out more at www.choosingwisely.org.nz, or contact Choosing Wisely facilitator Sue Ineson on Sue.Ineson@cmc.org.nz, 021 608 039.


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