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Online diagnostic tool could ‘transform’ child health

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An online decision support tool has been launched to provide specialist diagnostic advice for paediatricians, GPs and nurses.

Paediatric Care Online may reduce deaths by ensuring children receive the best treatment before they become too unwell, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which is hosting it.

“It will enable professionals to diagnose early, treat, prescribe, or signpost timely referral to the most appropriate service”

Hilary Cass

Launched last week, it is intended to ensure children get the right treatment at the earliest opportunity by ensuring the right patients get referred to hospitals and other specialist services, while others are seen in more appropriate settings.

Through the use of decision support tools that cover common signs and symptoms and critical care situations, it is hoped the website will also help healthcare professionals feel more secure about which patients can safely be managed at home.

Dr Hilary Cass, clinical lead for Paediatric Care Online and member of the RCPCH, said: “[It] will improve patient safety and reduce hospital admissions by providing healthcare professionals with immediate, professionally assured, evidenced 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,” she said.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Dr Hilary Cass

Hilary Cass

With initial funding from the Department of Health, the site has been developed by a partnership comprising the RCPCH, the Royal College of GPs, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Royal College of Nursing, the Institute of Health Visiting and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

It includes access to the British National Formulary for Children (BNFC), Public Health England’s Green Book on immunisations against infectious disease and the RCPCH child protection companion.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “This resource is easy to use and gives us quick access to the latest clinical guidelines and resources, which is very welcome at a time when GPs and our teams under intense resource and workforce pressures.”

An individual subscription to the site is £60 per annum, which the RCPCH said would help cover its development and then pay for operational costs.

It noted that for an additional £1, nurses could also become affiliate members of the RCPCH.

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