Red Deer Primary Care Network’s latest education session focused on helping patients become more savvy about the medical tests, screens and procedures they need and those they don’t.
Network chair Dr. Peter Bouch, who led the Health Café: To Test or Not to Test, said people who go for regular physical exams get the tests, screens and procedures that they need.
People should save their money if they are thinking of going for other tests not recommended by their doctors, he said.
“I would suggest people speak to their physician,” Bouch said during a break between the two Health Café sessions that attracted a total of 110 people on Wednesday at Red Deer Lodge.
He said once patients reach age 45 to 50, they should be going for medical exams annually. But younger adults who don’t have medical conditions or illnesses don’t require annual checkups.
He said some of the assessments recommended by the Alberta Screening and Prevention Initiative annually for adults, like blood pressure and influenza vaccination, can actually be done at pharmacies.
Other annual assessments include weight, exercise, tobacco use and alcohol use.
Tests recommended every three years include diabetes and cholesterol tests, a risk assessment for developing cardiovascular disease, as well as pap tests for women over 21. Three screens for colorectal cancer vary from two to five to 10 years. Mammograms are recommended every two years for older women.
Tests, treatments and procedures done more often than necessary include electrocardiograms, imaging tests for lower-back pain, CT (computed tomography) scans and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) for headaches, bone-density tests, and the use of antibiotics for sinusitis.
Bouch said for people with health conditions who don’t go to the doctor as often as they should, PCN doctors will be working to identify and remind those patients to get regular tests and checkups.
The PCN also plans to have more public forums so patients can help guide the direction of medical care in Red Deer and to find out what kinds of health programs people want in the community.
“It’s maybe a little bit of different mindset, but the whole medical system is going for more public input,” Bouch said.