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Treatments that give no or little benefit revealed PDF Print Email

Doctors have revealed a list of treatments they have compiled that give no or little benefit to patients.  Doctors have been advised to cut back on prescribing antibiotics for some time now as the effectiveness has diminished and now the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has drawn up a list of 40 treatments that give little or no benefit to patients.  The list will be updated and added to every year and is part of a ‘Choose Wisely’ campaign to reduce the number of unnecessary medical treatments and encourage people to ask more questions about the procedures helping doctors and patients to talk more frankly.

Medical experts from 11 different countries were asked to suggest five treatments used in their field that were often not necessary or of value.  You should always ask five questions:


  1. 1.Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
  2. 2.What are the risks or downsides?
  3. 3.What are the possible side-effects?
  4. 4.Are there simpler, safer options?
  5. 5.What will happen if I do nothing?

Among the highlights are:

X-rays are no real help to those with lower back pain

Women over 45 do not need the menopause diagnosed via a blood

Other advice includes:

Chemotherapy may be used to relieve symptoms of terminal cancer but it cannot cure the disease and may well bring further distress in the final months of life


The routine screening for prostate conditions using a test known as a Prostate Specific Antigen, or PSA test, does not lead to longer life and can bring unnecessary anxiety


Children with bronchiolitis, or breathing problems, usually get better without treatment


Tap water is just as effective for cleaning cuts and grazes as saline solution


Small wrist fractures in children do not normally need a plaster cast, and will heal just as quickly with a removable splint


Electronic monitoring of a baby's heart is only needed during labour if the mother has a higher-than-normal risk of complications


Experts say there is evidence that patients often pressure doctors into prescribing or carrying out unnecessary treatments and the NHS is under increasing pressure to reduce this.


Prof Dame Sue Bailey, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said "Some of these treatments can be quite invasive, time-consuming; there are simpler and as-safe options, so why wouldn't you?

"Because I think what we've got is a culture of 'we can do something, therefore we should do something' and we need to stop and reflect and decide what is the best option for the patient in their individual circumstances."


Remember your local pharmacy is a good place to pop into for some quick advice without the need to see your doctor.