2 photos that show why doctors have branded Jeremy Hunt's latest advice 'ludicrous'

One is an image of a child with meningococcal septicaemia and the other is a child with Henoch–Schönlein purpura

One is an image of a child with meningococcal septicaemia and the other is a child with Henoch–Schönlein purpura. One is a condition that kills a child in matter of hours without emergency life-saving treatment and the other, with treatment, would likely recover.

Can you spot the difference?

This is a question being asked by doctors to highlight how lives could be "at risk” from Jeremy Hunt’s suggestion that parents could save time by searching online to determine the severity of their children’s rash.

Mr Hunt said: ‘We may well need more 111 doctors and nurses. But if you’re worried about a rash your child has, an online alternative – where you look at photographs and say 'my child’s rash looks like this one' – may be a quicker way of getting to the bottom of whether this is serious or not.’

Dr Thom O’Neill, a general paediatric doctor at a children’s hospital in Scotland, said the two images he shared on social media were straight from a Google image search. His tweet, highlighting the problematic nature of trying to identify the severity of a rash through an image, was similar to many tweets by other doctors over the weekend. 

“At the hospital, a whole team of professionals will assess and investigate, and even with the support of blood tests and scans and a whole hospital of medical expertise and experience, we sometimes get it wrong,” said Dr O’Neill, who also blogs regularly on Youtube

“Mr Hunt’s suggestion that a simple Internet search replaces that is ludicrous. Even more concerning is that he seems to suggest it instead of seeking medical attention, rather than complimenting it. There is every possibility that parents can be falsely reassured if taking Mr Hunt’s advice, leading to potentially tragedy.

Junior doctors' message to Jeremy Hunt

The comments from the Health Secretary, which were published in the Daily Mail, have led to claims that Mr Hunt is encouraging parents to “Google” symptoms. Dr Hamed Khan, an emergency department doctor at St Georges hospital in London told the Independent the Health Secretary’s comments could “potentially put lives at risk”.

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said to the Independent: "Health websites can be a really useful source for patients and parents, especially NHS Choices which is approved by clinicians and where there is reliable, assured information….It can help reassure parents but also might appropriately direct them to seek help from their GP.

Jeremy Hunt says "If you’re worried about a rash your child has, an online alternative – where you look at photographs...

Posted by George Reid on Sunday, 31 January 2016

 

"However 'Googling' symptoms may result in patients accessing poor quality sites that give misleading, superfluous or incorrect information.

"Technology is not a substitute for the expertise and knowledge of a doctor and where parents are worried, especially when children are acutely unwell, they should seek advice from their GP.”

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