App to help patients avoid unnecessary medical tests

Summary

According to the Federal Knowledge Centre for Healthcare, medical professionals in Belgium carry out way to many test on pre-surgical patients

Risk assessment

Patients often undergo too many tests before having surgery, according to the Federal Knowledge Centre for Healthcare (KCE), which has created a free app with guidelines for medical professionals to address the problem.

KCE examined 15 pre-surgery tests routinely carried out on patients who are undergoing non-emergency surgery. They did not include tests carried out before a transplantation or heart or lung surgery.

Many tests, the organisation concluded, are usually not necessary, including a resting echography of the heart, a cardiopulmonary exercise test and tests for lung function, sleeping and liver function.

The KCE also cited a number of tests that are not recommended in any circumstance, if the patient doesn’t have specific complaints. “A typical example is a chest X-ray,” said Joan Vlayen, main author of the report. “That test only provides a very limited prediction of complications during and after surgery while exposing the patients to harmful radiation.”

Depending on the condition of the patient and the seriousness of the surgery, KCE does recommend a number of tests, including a resting electrocardiogram, a full blood count, kidney function tests and a urine analysis.

KCE has developed a free app to help medical professionals determine which tests should be carried out on which patients.

Photo: Ingimage