10:35pm Wednesday 22 January 2020

Launch of online tool to help frontline professionals in child health

Funded by the Department of Health, the website – www.spottingthesickchild.com – is aimed at all front line professionals in the field of child health and teaches the basic facts and relevant examination of the seven commonest presenting complaints in acutely ill children.

The website builds on the hugely successful DVD of the same name, which indicated that most healthcare practitioners lack training and confidence in acute paediatric illness, and are highly motivated to learn these skills.

The intended audience includes Foundation doctors, Emergency Department doctors, paediatric doctors in training, General Practitioners, nurses in GP surgeries / Emergency Departments / Paediatric wards, Health Visitors, paramedics and ambulance technicians, and medical students.

‘Spotting the Sick Child’ allows learners with variable paediatric experience to learn basic assessment and communication skills for acutely ill children in hospital and primary care environments.

The website was developed in a collaboration between Dr Monica Lakhanpaul, of the University of Leicester, who took the academic lead; Dr Ffion Davies, who took the clinical lead at the University Hospitals of Leicester; and Dr. Nicholas Blackwell of OCB Media, a University of Leicester spinout company specialising in online medical education, was responsible for development. The Health Education Research and Development Unit (HERADU) at the University of Leicester, led by Drs. Lakhanpaul and Blackwell, was instrumental in liaising with the Department of Health to realise the project.

With the growth in Urgent Care facilities and staff, increased attendances to emergency departments, and increased acute hospital admissions, the need for a resource such as this is growing.

In addition, the CEMACH (Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health ) report 2008 ‘Why Children Die’ and NPSA report 2009 on Children and Young People emphasised poor recognition skills amongst frontline staff for identifying critically ill children.

“There is no comparable resource in this field, other than heavyweight textbooks which will not reach the majority of frontline practitioners,” say Dr Lakhanpaul and Dr Davies.

‘Spotting the Sick Child’ is used by learners and teachers alike. Real life footage of paediatric emergencies brings the learner their ‘virtual patient’. They learn from this and can self-test on patients in the ‘My Waiting Room’ cases.

‘My Learning’ tracks the learner’s progress to date, and acts as a repository for pulling their identified learning needs into a customised sub-section of the website. Within the core sections, footage of certain types of patients are repeated and compared so that confidence and skills acquisition in recognition is gained, as it would in real life practice.

Dr Ffion Davies, Consultant at University Hospital Leicester, produced the original DVD and is a leader in the field of education for paediatric emergency medicine in the UK. She provided the expertise needed to make filming happen ‘on the ground’, overcoming potential obstacles such as staff reticence, patient consent, institutional support, and the project management required to make such a product, where others have failed.

Dr Davies commented: “We are a very enthusiastic bunch of professionals, who believe that we are at the forefront of online learning. ‘Spotting the Sick Child’ is a lot more fun than most e-learning packages, and offers the user customisation and choice in a way that most do not.

“With the backing of the Department of Health and Royal Colleges our aim is to reach out to large numbers of practitioners, and prevent unnecessary critical illness and deaths in children.”

Dr Monica Lakhanpaul, Consultant Paediatrician in Leicester Community Children’s Services and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Medical and Social Care Education, Health education and research Development Unit at the University of Leicester, has experience of getting evidence into practice, especially through NICE guideline development and implementation.

Dr Lakhanpaul added: “More and more children are attending the emergency department. With this increase it is sometimes a challenge to recognise the acutely sick child. It requires confidence and appropriate skills.

“We hope that this new evidence-based educational tool, commissioned by the Department of Health, will support health professionals, especially those in the front line, and give them confidence to recognise and manage the sick child.”

OCB Media contributed the expertise of online medical education, drawing on previous successful projects such as ‘Minor Injuries in Accident and Emergency’, ‘Paediatric Respiratory Examination’, ‘Paediatric Cardiovascluar Examination’ and ‘Acute Breathing Difficulties in Children’. Further information on OCB Media can be found at http://www.ocbmedia.com.

‘Spotting the Sick Child’ version 2 is an online educational website and follows the large-scale success of its DVD predecessor, which sold more than 20,000 copies in the UK and worldwide.

Like the website, the DVD was commissioned by the Department of Health (England), and is endorsed by NPSA, RCPCH, RCGP, RCN and the College of Emergency Medicine.

Notes to Editors: For more information on this please contact Dr Monica Lakhanpaul, Senior Lecturer and Consultant Paediatrician at the University of Leicester Department of Medical and Social Care Education, email ml103@le.ac.uk

Reviews of the earlier DVD version of ‘Spotting the Sick Child’

The multimedia format is a major strength in “Spotting the Sick Child”. As noted above, the use of video images and, in some instances, sounds provides a much fuller clinical presentation than that possible with a standard written text.

The individual narrators are very polished and present a very professional image without appearing aloof. Their content is concise and edits nicely with the related video clips.

“Spotting the Sick Child” is a very well-produced multimedia DVD of the acutely ill or injured child. The basic material covered is well suited for students of all medical and nursing disciplines and should be in the library of any teaching institution.

Pediatric Emergency Care, June 2005

This DVD is a powerful, versatile and informative resource which will be able to offer many healthcare professionals in all specialities and at all levels of training insight into how and ill child might look in practice. Anyone would feel more skilled after spending time with this DVD. I hope it will help to demystify the paediatric assessment and give those clinical signs which we strive to explain a real and “live” feel. This DVD, with its instructive and common-sense approach, should take pride of place in induction programmes and would be a valuable teaching resource in any A&E department, paediatric unit or GP surgery. Overall, it definitely does what is says on the box.

Archives of Disease in Childhood, September 2005

For those working in primary care, where sometimes the most difficult decisions are taken with respect to further intervention – referral to hospital or a wait and see approach – this DVD may jog a few memories and remind GPs particularly about the sometimes innocuous presentations of serious illnesses in childhood. Whilst the résumés of typical childhood illnesses – for example, respiratory illnesses and the characteristics of rashes – may seem obvious to many, we know from claims experience that these facts are not always universally known or recognised.

This teaching aid, therefore, is applicable to several health care settings and its use should be encouraged. If all those involved in the assessment of children could demonstrate their clinical skills to this level, ensuring that the basics have been covered and then documented, it might also reduce the all too frequent complaints from parents about perfunctory examinations when they have considerable concerns about the wellbeing of their children.

Medical Protection Society Casebook, February 2006

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