Choosing Wisely

About Choosing Wisely Canada

Choosing Wisely Canada is a national campaign to help clinicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests and treatments, and make smart and effective care choices.

Choosing Wisely Canada launched on April 2, 2014, and is organized by a small team from the University of Toronto, Canadian Medical Association and St. Michael’s Hospital.

It is part of a global movement that began in the United States in 2012, which now spans 20 countries across 5 continents.

Choosing Wisely Canada inspires and engages health care professionals to take leadership on reducing unnecessary care, and enables them with simple tools and resources that make it easier to choose wisely.

We do this by partnering with professional societies representing different clinical specialties to come up with lists of “Things Clinicians and Patients Should Question.” These lists of recommendations identify tests and treatments commonly used in each specialty that are not supported by evidence, and could expose patients to harm.

We also partner with a wide range of medical associations, health system as well as patient organizations to help put these recommendations into practice.

Facts About Unnecessary Care

Up to 30% of health care in Canada is unnecessary.

Unnecessary tests and treatments are not only clinically useless, they potentially expose patients to harm, lead to more testing to investigate false positives, contribute to unwarranted stress for patients and their families, and consume precious time and resources for everyone involved.

So why do they occur? Well, there are many possible drivers of unnecessary care, including:

  • Practice habits are traditionally difficult to change, even in the face of new evidence
  • Patients might demand tests and treatments they are misinformed about
  • Lack of time for shared decision-making between clinicians and patients
  • Outdated decision-support systems encourage over-ordering
  • Defensive medicine and fear of malpractice lawsuits drive over-investigations
  • Payment systems reward doing more