American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Nine Things Physicians and Patients Should Question

Released February 21, 2013 (Items 1–4). Released March 14, 2016 (Items 5–9). Recommendation #5 revised August 24, 2016. Last reviewed 2021

  1. 1

    Don’t schedule elective, non-medically indicated inductions of labor or Cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks 0 days gestational age.

    Delivery prior to 39 weeks 0 days has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of learning disabilities and a potential increase in morbidity and mortality. There are clear medical indications for delivery prior to 39 weeks 0 days based on maternal and/or fetal conditions. A mature fetal lung test, in the absence of appropriate clinical criteria, is not an indication for delivery.

  2. 2

    Don’t perform routine annual cervical cytology screening (Pap tests) in women 30 – 65 years of age.

    In average risk women, annual cervical cytology screening has been shown to offer no advantage over screening performed at 3-year intervals. However, a well-woman visit should occur annually for patients with their health care practitioner to discuss concerns and problems, and have appropriate screening with consideration of a pelvic examination.

  3. 3

    Don’t treat patients who have mild dysplasia of less than two years in duration.

    Mild dysplasia (Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia [CIN 1]) is associated with the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which does not require treatment in average risk women. Most women with CIN 1 on biopsy have a transient HPV infection that will usually clear in less than 12 months and, therefore, does not require treatment.

  4. 4

    Don’t screen for ovarian cancer in asymptomatic women at average risk.

    In population studies, there is only fair evidence that screening of asymptomatic women with serum CA-125 level and/or transvaginal ultrasound can detect ovarian cancer at an earlier stage than it can be detected in the absence of screening. Because of the low prevalence of ovarian cancer and the invasive nature of the interventions required after a positive screening test, the potential harms of screening outweigh the potential benefits.

  5. 5

    Avoid using robotic assisted laparoscopic surgery for benign gynecologic disease when it is feasible to use a conventional laparoscopic or vaginal approach.

    Robotic-assisted and conventional laparoscopic techniques are comparable with respect to perioperative outcomes, intraoperative complications, length of hospital stay and rate of conversion to open surgery. However, evidence shows that robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery has similar or longer operating times and higher associated costs.

  6. 6

    Don’t perform prenatal ultrasounds for non-medical purposes, for example, solely to create keepsake videos or photographs.

    Prenatal ultrasounds are an integral part of a woman’s prenatal care. While obstetric ultrasound has an excellent safety record, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers keepsake imaging as an unapproved use of a medical device. The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine also discourages the non-medical use of ultrasound for entertainment purposes. Keepsake ultrasounds are not medical tests and should not replace a clinically performed sonogram.

  7. 7

    Don’t routinely transfuse stable, asymptomatic hospitalized patients with a hemoglobin level greater than 7–8 grams.

    Multiple factors need to be considered in transfusion decisions, including the patient’s clinical status and oxygen delivery ability. Arbitrary hemoglobin or hematocrit thresholds should not be used as the only criterion for transfusions of packed red blood cells.

  8. 8

    Don’t perform pelvic ultrasound in average risk women to screen for ovarian cancer.

    Although the mortality rate associated with ovarian cancer is high, the disease occurs infrequently in the general U.S. population, with an age-adjusted incidence of 13 cases per 100,000 women. As a result, the positive predictive value of screening for ovarian cancer is low, and most women with a positive screening test result will have a false-positive result. Annual screening with transvaginal ultrasonography in women does not reduce the number of ovarian cancer deaths.

  9. 9

    Don’t routinely recommend activity restriction or bed rest during pregnancy for any indication.

    Bed rest or activity restriction has been commonly recommended for a variety of conditions in pregnancy including multiple gestation, intrauterine growth restriction, preterm labor, premature rupture of membranes, vaginal bleeding and hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. However, information to date does not show an improvement in birth outcome with the use of bed rest or activity restriction, but does show an increase in loss of muscle conditioning and thromboembolic disease.

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.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 56,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.

For more information, visit

How This List Was Created

As a national medical specialty society, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists relies on the input of any number of its committees in the development of various documents. In the case of the items submitted for the Choosing Wisely® campaign, input from the following committees was solicited: the Committees on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement; Obstetric Practice; and Gynecologic Practice. A literature search was conducted related to the initial list of approximately ten items. We then sent this list to the College’s Executive Board and asked them to select five of the items based on their potential to improve quality and reduce cost. We explained to them that the items were written to avoid complex or clinical terminology, but not at the risk of reducing the value and credibility of the recommendations made. In the case of the first two items on our list – “Don’t schedule elective, non-medically indicated inductions of labor or Cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks 0 days gestational age” and “Don’t schedule elective, non-medically indicated inductions of labor between 39 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 0 days unless the cervix is deemed favorable” – we collaborated with the American Academy of Family Physicians in developing the final language. A list of the second set of “five items” was selected by the Committee on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement before submission to the College’s Executive Board for approval. Any comments received from the Executive Board were incorporated into the final list that was approved.

The College’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at


  1. Elimination of non-medically indicated (elective) deliveries before 39 weeks gestational age. Main E, Oshiro B, Chagolla B, Bingham D, Dang-Kilduff L, Kowalewski L (California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative). California: March of Dimes; First edition July 2010. California Department of Public Health; Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division; Contract No: 08-85012.

  2. Systematic review: The value of the periodic health evaluation. Boulware LE, Marinopoulos S, Phillips KA, Hwang CW, Maynor K, Merenstein D. Ann Intern Med [Internet]. 2007 Feb 20;146(4):289-300.

    Screening Guidelines for the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer. Saslow D, Solomon D, Lawson HW, Killackey M, Kulasingam SL, Cain J, Garcia FA, Moriarty AT, Waxman AG, Wilbur DC, Wentzensen N, Downs LS Jr, Spitzer M, Moscicki AB, Franco EL, Stoler MH, Schiffman M, Castle PE, Myers ER; ACS-ASCCP-ASCP Cervical Cancer Guideline Committee, American Cancer Society, American Society for Colpoloscopy and Cervical Pathology, and American Society for Clinical Pathology. CA Cancer J Clin [Internet]. 2012 May-Jun;62(3):147–72.

    Well-woman visit. Committee Opinion No. 534. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol [Internet]. 2012 Aug;120:421–4.

    Screening for cervical cancer. Practice Bulletin No. 131. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Nov;120(5):1222-38.

  3. 2006 consensus guidelines for the management of women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or adenocarcionoma in situ. Wright TC, Massad LS, Dunton CJ, Spitzer M, Wilkinson EJ, Solomon D. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007;197:340-45.

    Management of abnormal cervical cytology and histology. Practice Bulletin No. 99. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol [Internet]. 2008 Dec;112(6):1419–44.

  4. Screening for ovarian cancer: Recommendation statement. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Fam Med [Internet]. 2004 May 1;2(3):260–62.

    Screening for ovarian cancer: Evidence update for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Barton MB, Lin K. [Internet]. Rockville (MD); 2012 Apr. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; AHRQ Publication No. 12-05165-EF3.

    Results from four rounds of ovarian cancer screening in a randomized trial. Partridge E, Kreimer AR, Greenlee RT, Williams C, Xu JL, Church TR, Kessel B, Johnson CC, Weissfeld JL, Isaacs C, Andriole GL, Ogden S, Ragard LR, Buys SS; PLCO Project Team. Obstet Gynecol [Internet]. 2009 Apr;113(4):775–82.

    The role of the obstetrician–gynecologist in the early detection of epithelial ovarian cancer. Committee Opinion No. 477. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice. Obstet Gynecol 2011 Mar;117(3):742–6.

  5. Liu H, Lawrie TA, Lu DH, Song H, Wang L, Shi G. Robot-assisted surgery in gynaecology. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014, Dec 10;12: CD011422.

    AAGL position statement: Robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery in benign gynecology. AAGL Advancing Minimally Invasive Gynecology Worldwide. J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2013 Jan-Feb;20(1):2-9.

  6. ACOG Committee Opinion. Number 297, August 2004. Nonmedical use of obstetric ultrasonography. ACOG Committee on Ethics. Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Aug;104(2):423-4.

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Fetal keepsake videos. Available at: Retrieved December 9, 2015.

    Abramowicz JS, Barnett SB; ISUOG; WFUMB. The safe use of non-medical ultrasound: a summary of the proceedings of the joint safety symposium of ISUOG and WFUMB. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2009 May;33(5):617-20.

    American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. Prudent use in pregnancy. Laurel (MD): AIUM; 2012. Available at: Retrieved December 9, 2015.

    Chervenak FA, McCullough LB. An ethical critique of boutique fetal imaging: a case for the medicalization of fetal imaging. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2005;192(1):31–3.

  7. Carson JL, Grossman BJ, Kleinman S, Tinmouth AT, Marques MB, Fung MK, Holcomb JB, Illoh O, Kaplan LJ, Katz LM, Rao SV, Roback JD, Shander A, Tobian AA, Weinstein R, Swinton McLaughlin LG, Djulbegovic B; Clinical Transfusion Medicine Committee of the AABB. Red blood cell transfusion: a clinical practice guideline from the AABB. Ann Intern Med. 2012;157:49–58.

  8. Moyer VA. Screening for ovarian cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med 2012;157:900–4.

    American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice. Committee Opinion No. 477: the role of the obstetriciangynecologist in the early detection of epithelial ovarian cancer. Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Mar;117(3):742-6.

    U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ovarian cancer: screening. Rockville (MD): USPSTF; 2012. Available at: Retrieved December 9, 2015.

  9. McCall CA, Grimes DA, Lyerly AD. “Therapeutic” bed rest in pregnancy: unethical and unsupported by data. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;121:1305–8.

    Fox NS, Gelber SE, Kalish RB, Chasen ST. The recommendation for bed rest in the setting of arrested preterm labor and premature rupture of membranes. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009;200:165.e1–165.e6.

    Grobman WA, Gilbert SA, Iams JD, Spong CY, Saade G, Mercer BM, et al. Activity restriction among women with a short cervix. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;121:1181–6.

    Maloni JA. Lack of evidence for prescription of antepartum bed rest. Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2011;6:385–93.

    Brennan MC, Moore LE. Pulmonary embolism and amniotic fluid embolism in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2013;40:27–35.

    Promislow JH, Hertz-Picciotto I, Schramm M, Watt-Morse M, Anderson JJ. Bed rest and other determinants of bone loss during pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004;191:1077–83.

    Merriam AA, Chichester M, Patel N, Hoffman MK. Bed rest and gestational diabetes: more reasons to get out of bed in the morning [abstract]. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;123(suppl 1):70S.

    Sosa CG, Althabe F, Belizán JM, Bergel E. Bed rest in singleton pregnancies for preventing preterm birth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD003581.

    Sciscione AC. Maternal activity restriction and the prevention of preterm birth. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010;202:232.e1–e5.