News Advisor The seven essential health check-ups you need
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The seven essential health check-ups you need

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Australians are skipping crucial health checks while also being charged for unnecessary tests that clog up the system, experts have warned.

Scans for injured ankles and lower back pain are just some of the costly tests being overprescribed.

Scroll down for the seven critical tests

That is the claim of the peak bodies for GPs, radiologists, pathologists and other medical experts, which launched the ‘Choosing Wisely Australia’ campaign in April to combat this problem.

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Lower back scans can be a costly and unnecessary response to pain. Photo: Shutterstock

“Consumers are often unaware that not all tests, treatments and procedures are necessary or good for them,” said Consumers Health Forum CEO Leanne Wells in a statement.

“Often consumers will just accept what the doctor says, which may mean bearing the costs of unnecessary tests.

“Tests are not always in the consumer’s best interests.

“Some are outmoded, some unnecessary and some have cheaper alternatives.”

But there are check-ups we definitely do need, the nation’s foremost GP told The New Daily.

“It’s an old saying that prevention is better than cure, and that really is the case. There’s no question about that,” said Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) president Dr Frank Jones.

Bowel cancer screening is just one of these crucial tests.

“I strongly recommend that anybody over the age of 50 get a stool test on their bowels. It’s very simple to do,” Dr Jones said.

The problem is not cheap and effective tests like these, but the use of radiation machines, blood tests and other expensive technologies when they are simply uncalled for.

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“What we’re saying in ‘Choosing Wisely’ – and it’s a great, great initiative – is that having more tests, more referrals, more prescriptions is not necessarily better for care,” Dr Jones said.

“We have to empower doctors and patients to change their behaviour.

“I think it’s really important to have a discussion about every test with your patients, and I think we need a cultural change amongst doctors, but also patients need to come along on the journey with us as well.”

With that in mind, here are the tests you really should be asking for.

Seven health checks you need

blood pressure testBlood pressureEvery two years at least
dental-check-upDentalOnce a year at least
sexual-health-checkSexual infectionYearly
pap-smearPap smearAt least every two years for women
mammogramMammogramWomen (50-69) every two years
bowel cancer testBowel cancerEveryone (50-75) every two years
skin-cancer-checkSkin cancerAt least once a year, especially for those with family history of melanoma

Click here for the full list.

Five questions to ask

Choose Wisely Australia recommends that before any test you ask your doctor the following:

• Do I really need this test?
• What are the risks?
• Are there safer, simpler options?
• What happens if I don’t do anything?
• What are the costs?

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