Choosing Wisely®

The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) is proud to have joined with 16 other specialty groups—each of which released a list of "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question" on February 21, 2013. 

Along with the ABIM Foundation and the other specialty societies this list release begins the second phase of the Choosing Wisely® campaign. Choosing Wisely launched an initial phase of the campaign in April 2012; with nine specialty society partners releasing lists. To date, over 130 items have been developed as part of the campaign. This initiative aims to spark conversations about appropriate care between physicians and patients.

The AAO-HNSF‘s list of recommendations was carefully selected after a review of the current evidence that included AAO-HNSF clinical practice guidelines. Each list includes language communicating when a particular test or treatment may be appropriate based on clinical evidence and guidelines. Consumer Reports, along with a coalition of consumer partner organizations, is also a part of the Choosing Wisely effort and is working with many of the societies to help patients understand the tests and treatments that are right for them.

Choosing Wisely Video Link 

List of 5 Things to Question (pdf)

AAO-HNSF Press Release

Consumer Reports article


Clinical Practice Guidelines


Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question
Computed tomography scanning is expensive, exposes the patient to radiation and offers no useful information that would improve initial management. CT scanning may be appropriate in patients with focal neurologic findings, a history of trauma or chronic ear disease 1.

Oral antibiotics have significant adverse effects and do not provide adequate coverage of the bacteria that cause most episodes; in contrast, topically administered products do provide coverage for these organisms. Avoidance of oral antibiotics can reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance and the risk of opportunistic infections 2.

Oral antibiotics have significant adverse effects and do not provide adequate coverage of the bacteria that cause most episodes; in contrast, topically administered products do provide coverage for these organisms. Avoidance of oral antibiotics can reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance and the risk of opportunistic infections 3.

Imaging of the paranasal sinuses, including plain film radiography, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is unnecessary in patients who meet the clinical diagnostic criteria for uncomplicated acute rhinosinusitis. Acute rhinosinusitis is defined as up to four weeks of purulent nasal drainage (anterior, posterior or both) accompanied by nasal obstruction, facial pain-pressure-fullness or both. Imaging is costly and exposes patients to radiation. Imaging may be appropriate in patients with a complication of acute rhinosinusitis, patients with comorbidities that predispose them to complications and patients in whom an alternative diagnosis is suspected 4.

Examination of the larynx with mirror or fiberoptic scope is the primary method for evaluating patients with hoarseness. Imaging is unnecessary in most patients and is both costly and has potential for radiation exposure. After laryngoscopy, evidence supports the use of imaging to further evaluate 1) vocal fold paralysis, or 2) a mass or lesion of the larynx 5.

These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How This List Was Created

The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery’s (AAO-HNS) Patient Safety and Quality Improvement (PSQI) Committee was charged with developing the Foundation’s recommendations for the Choosing Wisely campaign. The PSQI Committee initially sought the input of the Specialty Society Advisory Council (SSAC) and requested each member society submit potential topics along with supporting evidence. From those submissions, an initial list of 20 items was distributed to Academy and Foundation committees and the Guidelines Development Task Force (GDTF) for review.

PSQI Committee leadership reviewed feedback from the committees and identified six potential recommendations for inclusion in the campaign. The six topics were selected based on their supporting evidence (for example, clinical practice guidelines), committee support, and the current use (frequency) of the test or procedure. The members of SSAC ranked the six topics, and the top five topics were submitted to the Foundation board for approval.

AAO-HNS’ disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at

1. Stachler RJ, Chandrasekhar SS, Archer SM, Rosenfeld RM, Schwartz SR, Barrs DM, Brown SR, Fife TD , Ford P, Ganiats TG, Hollingsworth DB, Lewandowski CA, Montano JJ, Saunders JE, Tucci DL, Valente M, Warren BE, Yaremchuk KL, Robertson PJ. Clinical practice guideline: Sudden hearing loss. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg [Internet]. 2012 Mar [cited 2012 Oct 18];146(3 Suppl):S1-35.
2. Goldblatt EL, Dohar J, Nozza RJ, Nielsen RW, Goldberg T, Sidman JD, Seidlin M. Topical ofloxacin versus systemic amoxicillin/clavulanate in purulent otorrhea in children with tympanostomy tubes. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 1998 Nov 15;46(1-2):91-101.

Rosenfeld RM, Schwartz SR, Pynnonen MA, Tunkel DE, Hussey HM, Fichera JS, Grimes AM, Hackell JM, Harrison MF, Haskell H, Haynes DS, Kim TW, Lafreniere DC, LeBlanc K, Mackey WL, Netterville JL, Pipan ME, Raol NP, Schellhase KG. Clinical Practice Guideline: Tympanostomy tubes in children. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013; Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013;149(1 Suppl):S1-35.
3. Rosenfeld RM, Brown L, Cannon CR, Dolor RJ, Ganiats TG, Hannley M, Kokemueller P, Marcy SM, Roland PS, Shiffman RN, Stinnett SS, Witsell DL. Clinical practice guideline: Acute otitis externa. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg [Internet]. 2006 Apr [cited 2012 Oct 18];134(4 Suppl):S4-23.
4. Rosenfeld RM, Andes D, Bhattacharyya N, Cheung D, Eisenberg S, Ganiats TG, Gelzer A, Hamilos D, Haydon RC 3rd, Hudgins PA, Jones S, Krouse HJ, Lee LH, Mahoney MC, Marple BF, Mitchell CJ, Nathan R, Shiffman RN, Smith TL, Witsell DL. Clinical practice guideline: Adult sinusitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg [Internet]. 2007 Sep [cited 2012 Oct 18]:137(3 Suppl):S1-31.
5. Schwartz SR, Cohen SM, Dailey SH, Rosenfeld RM, Deutsch ES, Gillespie MB, Granieri E, Hapner ER, Kimball CE, Krouse HJ, McMurray JS, Medina S, O’Brien K, Ouellette DR, Messinger-Rapport BJ, Stachler RJ, Strode S, Thompson DM, Stemple JC, Willging JP, Cowley T, McCoy S, Bernad PG, Patel MM. Clinical practice guideline: Hoarseness (dysphonia). Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg [Internet]. 2009 Sep [cited 2012 Oct 18];141(3 Suppl 2):S1-S31.


Find the sources for our list and more here.

For more information about the campaign, partner specialty societies, and consumer organizations, visit: