Minimising waste in the health system

21 Jul 2016

The AMA this week also released its new Position Statement on the Doctor’s Role in Stewardship of Health Care Resources outlining how doctors are important stewards of health care resources and good stewardship is an important part of ethical, best practice care.

The Position Statement explains that stewardship involves avoiding or eliminating wasteful expenditure, with the aim of maximising quality of care and protecting patients from harm, while ensuring affordable care in the future.

Stewardship is not rationing, which involves limiting the amount of health care a person is allowed to have because of economic reasons or scarcity of resources.

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said that doctors must balance their obligation to minimise wastage of resources with their primary obligation to care for, and protect the health interests of, the individual patient.

“Doctors can reduce wasteful expenditure by applying responsible stewardship to their everyday practices through, for example, appropriate clinical decision-making, minimising diagnostic error, and eliminating tests, treatments or procedures that are unnecessary, inappropriate, or unwanted by the patient. This not only reduces waste, but positively influences quality of care.”

“Doctors must retain their clinical independence and professional autonomy so they can make health care decisions based on the best interests of the patient, and not the interests of third parties.”

Dr Gannon said the Position Statement stresses important messages for the medical profession, including:

  • more treatment is not always better treatment;
  • expensive treatment is not always better treatment;
  • the 'newest' treatment is not always better treatment; and
  • be prepared to identify and change established practices that are ineffective or less effective than alternative treatments.

Full media release

AMA Position Statement on the Doctor’s Role in Stewardship of Health Care Resources