Forty treatments are of “little or no benefit” to patients according to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.
The AOMRC is urging doctors and patients to think about the value of treatments. They include chemotherapy which can cause “further distress” for patients with terminal cancer and plaster casts for small wrist fractures or children’s “buckle fractures.
The Choosing Wisely list also includes x-rays for lower back pain which could be of little benefit if there are no other concerning features.
It was drawn up by experts from eleven medical specialities and patient groups.
The academy’s chairwoman Professor Sue Bailey said: “We all have a duty to look after resources in healthcare, especially when the NHS is under so much pressure, but that’s not the main motivation for this initiative.
“What’s much more important is that both doctors and patients really question whether the particular the particular treatment is really necessary.”
Dame Sue said: “Medical or surgical interventions don’t need to be the only solution offered by a doctor and more certainly doesn’t always mean better.”
She said patients should ask five key questions about treatment.
They should ask if they need it, what the risks and possible side effects are, if there are simpler, safer options and what would happen if they do nothing.
The academy questioned the value of routine prostate cancer screening using the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test which could bring unnecessary anxiety and “does not lead to longer life.”
However Prostate Cancer UK said the PSA test should be given to men over 50 who request it. The charity’s head of policy Karen Stalbow said it agreed that the PSA test is not appropriate for a UK-wide screening programme.
She added: “Until we have a test that can enable effective risk-based screening the PSA test is the best step towards a diagnosis of the disease.”
No man should be turned away if they want the test after talking about the prods and cons with their doctor.
“We also suggest that healthcare professionals discuss the test with men from the age of 45 if they are at higher risk due to being of black ethnicity or having a family history of the disease.”