The swine flu algorithm used by the National Pandemic Flu Service in 2009-10 to triage patients by phone or online “is of little use in differentiating unwell children”, according to UK researchers.
They tested it on 72 children admitted with fever to Nottingham Children’s Hospital and found the algorithm would have diagnosed 71 with swine flu.
Two patients were confirmed as having swine flu, but 32 patients definitely did not have it.
The authors said: “There is a significant risk of harm with false-positive diagnoses. Face-to-face consultations may be the only way to ensure patient safety.”
- Mann C. Wood D. Davies P. An evaluation of the UK National Pandemic Flu Service swine flu algorithm in hospitalised children, and comparison with the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence fever guideline. Emergency Medical Journal 2011. 28; 761-763.