26 January 2016
Online Diagnostic Support Tool May Reduce Child Deaths
A new online diagnostic support tool for all healthcare professionals working with children in the UK may reduce child deaths by ensuring sick children have access to the best treatment as early as possible, according to child health experts.
Paediatric Care Online (PCO UK), an ‘online decision support tool’ hosted by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, was launched early in 2016. The service will provide specialist diagnostic advice for paediatricians, GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
The aim of the tool is to prevent delays in treating sick children by ensuring they are referred to hospitals and other specialist services as early as possible. Child health experts say it could help towards reducing the 2,000 preventable child deaths that occur each year in the UK.
‘Decision support tools’ known as ‘Key Practice Points’ will provide healthcare professionals with detailed information covering common signs and symptoms and critical care situations for a number of health issues and illnesses. PCO UK will provide clinically assured advice and guidance to assist with diagnosis and treatment at the point of care and help healthcare professionals feel more confident about which patients can safely be managed at home.
Dr Hilary Cass, Clinical Lead for PCO UK and member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: “PCO UK will improve patient safety and reduce hospital admissions by providing healthcare professionals with immediate, professionally assured, evidence-based guidance together with a host of supporting reference materials and patient/carer information. This will enable professionals to diagnose early, treat, prescribe, or signpost timely referral to the most appropriate service.”
The resource will include access to the British National Formulary for Children (BNFC), Public Health England’s Green Book containing the latest information on vaccines and vaccination procedures for vaccine preventable infectious diseases in the UK, and the RCPCH child protection companion – a handbook for paediatricians providing information on all forms of abuse and child protection processes.
This kind of comprehensive access to essential practical information will provide GPs and other healthcare professionals with invaluable support in diagnosing and referring young patients.
PCO UK will provide immediate evidence-based access to the latest national clinical guidance. We often see cases where children and young people are misdiagnosed, leading to a worsening in their condition before the correct diagnosis is reached and the appropriate treatment can be started. We will watch the progress of this tool with interest.
Claire White is a senior clinical negligence solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.