The Five Questions

Did you know that doctors are far less likely to choose certain kinds of treatment for themselves than the general population? 95% of doctors would not want to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the end of their lives, and 88% would choose not to have haemodialysis*. There are many reasons why doctors might choose to have less invasive treatments than the general population, but one explanation may be that doctors tend to know more about the care and treatment available to them. How can we ensure that we’re equipping patients with the tools they need to get the right information themselves, so that they can make the best possible choices about their care and treatment?

One way forward is the Choosing Wisely 5 Questions – a set of question prompts which some NHS Scotland boards are encouraging people to ask about their care. The questions are:

Is this test, treatment or procedure really needed?
What are the potential benefits and risks?
What are the possible side effects?
Are there simpler, safer or alternative treatment options?
What would happen if I did nothing?
We already know that people who ask more questions during their cancer treatment tend to have a better patient experience. By extending the use of the 5 Questions to all clinical settings, we hope that everyone will have the information they need to make informed decisions about their care.

*Haemodialysis is a procedure which is often performed on people whose kidneys aren’t working well – the patient’s blood is diverted into an external machine, filtered, and returned to the body.