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Posted by (name unknown) on Mar 6th, 2015 9:48am

Patient safety is always paramount at Massachusetts hospitals, but as we mark National Patient Safety Week March 8 -15th, it's an opportunity to reflect on the many ways our hospitals are constantly working to provide even better care.

Sometimes, the best patient care can be a procedure or intervention that doesn't take place at all, a concept that is central to the Choosing Wisely Massachusetts campaign being led by Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP). MHA is both a proud member of MHQP and a participating organization in the Choosing Wisely Massachusetts public awareness effort.

As Massachusetts moves away from fee-for-service care delivery and toward more comprehensive population health management, the change offers an important opportunity to encourage dialogue between caregivers and patients about the long-held misconception that "more" care equals "better" care.

Choosing Wisely Massachusetts brings together more than 20 Bay State healthcare organizations and agencies to focus on patient engagement and evidence-based care recommendations that patients can discuss with their doctors. The current Choosing Wisely effort encourages patients to talk with their physicians about whether diagnostic imaging in the treatment of their lower back pain or persistent headaches is appropriate. MHQP's review of the latest available clinical research showed that about 20% of the imaging tests ordered by Massachusetts primary care physician practices are not indicated.

MHA's Vice President for Clinical Integration, Steven Defossez, M.D., is also a practicing radiologist and MRI specialist. According to Steve:

"People suffering from lower back pain or headaches want to know what's going on and they want relief. Cross-sectional imaging tests are powerful tools, which when applied thoughtfully can result in accurate diagnoses and formation of appropriate care plans. It's not surprising that patients with these conditions often look to an MRI or CT scan for answers. However, diagnostic imaging may not always be the best option. Over-utilization of diagnostic imaging is wasteful at best and may actually be harmful. It's important for patients to work collaboratively with their caregivers and make sure they're following evidence-based best practices to get the best possible outcome."

I encourage everyone to visit the Choosing Wisely Massachusetts website, to make note of the wealth of important information there, and to begin or continue the discussions that will undoubtedly arise with family, loved ones, and especially caregivers. This week and every day – Massachusetts hospitals stand ready to help our patients choose wisely.

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