Monday, October 12, 2015

RightCare Action Week is next week!

- Jennifer Middleton, MD, MPH

Overuse of medical services - unnecessary prescribing, testing, and hospital care - may represent as much as 30% of the medical services we provide in the United States. Besides wasting resources, these unnecessary medical services can also cause patient harm and even death. Led by the Lown Institute's RightCare Alliance, several leading patient care advocacy organizations have declared October 18-22 RightCare Action Week:
RightCare Action Week is a grassroots initiative for clinicians and others who want to take action that demonstrates how much better our healthcare system can be.Our healthcare system has strayed from its mission: Healthcare that is effective, affordable, needed and wanted by well-informed patients, and especially, free of clinical decisions that are made with financial or business considerations. (
RightCare Action Week is an opportunity for all of us to show our patients that they deserve better than to be harmed by unnecessary medical services. You may feel, as a busy family doctor, that participating in such initiatives is unrealistically time consuming, but this week provides plenty of opportunities to get involved on even a very small scale - and when those small actions are added up across the country, they can make a very powerful voice.

The RightCare Action Week Guide to Taking Action describes easy ways to get involved. First, consider participating in an overuse count; simply observe how many unnecessary medical services you see during all or part of the week and share your tally at Second, look for or organize a story slam, a time when healthcare workers can come together and share stories of overuse - and possibly associated harms - they've seen. Third, and perhaps the quickest of all, consider participating in their photo campaign - a pic of you holding a sign describing what "right care" means to you, tweeted or e-mailed to the Lown Institute. You can find more details about each of these initiatives here.

You can also count on AFP to provide you with the point-of-care resources you need to avoid overuse. If you haven't checked out our Choosing Wisely search tool, it's a great way to quickly access those evidence-based guidelines. Under the Department Collections tab on the AFP home page (hyperlink), you can find AFP Journal Club, where AFP editors critically assess recent studies, Medicine by the Numbers, which provides clear-cut summaries of the harms and benefits of various interventions, and a POEMs (Patient Oriented Evidence that Matters) archive which includes the top 20 POEMs by calendar year. Each of these resources has interactive search tools and provide quick answers intended to enhance the care you provide to your patients every day.

If you'd like to read more about overuse, AFP ran a series of editorials on overscreeningoverdiagnosis, and overtreatment by Dr. Mark Ebell, AFP Deputy Editor for Evidence-Based Medicine, earlier this year along with an accompanying editorial by AFP Editor Dr. Jay Siwek. 

RightCare Action Week starts in just 7 days; please consider taking part in at least some small way! Maybe you'll commit to trying one of the AFP resources above that is new to you, or maybe you'll try an overuse count, story slam, or photo campaign. Share your involvement on social media with #rightcare and watch for RightCare Action Week updates from @AFPjournal and myself, @SingingPenDrJen, too.