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Te Pū rauemi KOWHEORI-19 COVID-19 resource hub

Support for people working in health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find information about how you can support yourselves and others, including consumers, teams and colleagues which complements and aligns with Ministry of Health resources.

Kia āta kōwhiri Choosing Wisely

The Choosing Wisely campaign seeks to reduce harm from unnecessary and low-value tests and treatment.

The Council of Medical Colleges (CMC) previously facilitated the Choosing Wisely campaign in New Zealand, as part of its commitment to improving the quality of care for all consumers.

This information is not being actively updated. For information on the history of the campaign please contact

Unnecessary tests do not add value to you or your whānau

Just because tests and treatments are available, doesn’t mean we should always use them.

Tests, treatments and procedures have side-effects and some may even cause harm. For example, CT scans and x-rays expose you to radiation; overuse of antibiotics leads to them becoming less effective; a false positive test may lead to painful and stressful further investigation.

In this section you will find lists and questions relating to specific problems and concerns – and the questions to ask before agreeing to a medical intervention or test.

As each situation is unique, health care professionals and patients should have a conversation to work out an appropriate health care plan together.

Four questions for patients to ask

Some tests, treatments and procedures provide little benefit. And in some cases, they may even cause harm. These questions can help you make sure you end up with the right amount of care — not too much and not too little. As each situation is unique, a discussion with your health professional can help you develop a healthcare plan for you.

1. Do I really need this test or procedure?

Tests may help you and your doctor or other healthcare professionals determine the problem. Procedures may help to treat it. Understanding why your doctor is considering a test -and weighing up the benefits and risks – is always advisable, and is every patient’s right and responsibility.

2. What are the risks? 

If you have – or don’t have – the test or procedure, what is likely to happen? Are there potential side effects? What are the chances of getting results that aren’t accurate? Could that lead to more testing or another procedure?

3. Are there simpler, safer options? 

Sometimes all you need to do is make lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier foods or exercising more. Or an alternative test or treatment that might deliver useful information, while reducing any potential negative impacts for you.

4. What happens if I don't do anything?

Ask if your condition might get worse – or better – if you don’t have the test or procedure right away.

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