Medical Crowdsourcing Saves Another Life

E-coli_r1_8_3_15-01Thanks to SERMO’s recent expansion, Dr. John Fernandes, a general practitioner in Canada, was able to tap the wisdom of hundreds of thousands of doctors in other countries on the #1 social network exclusively for doctors to save his patient’s life.

Dr. Fernandes had a patient who died from E. coli 0157:H7 Verotoxin Positive with HUS and then his sister presented with the same symptoms: frequent diarrhea that progressed to bloody diarrhea. After her stool tested positive for E. coli, he sent her to the hospital for hydration and nutrition and for them to keep an eye on her since her brother’s case proved deadly. He did some follow up tests and found that her monocytes spiked and then lowered to 50% within 24 hours. He wanted some advice on follow up tests and treatment and on how to determine the source of contamination. And, SERMO physicians delivered.

Within just a few hours, a gastroenterologist from the United States, responded to his post:

“You need to keep these patients in the hospital until they are better…Get CDC involved in tracing, you can’t do that yourself. Do they eat out habitually? Salad bars, cold cut meats, salads etc.? You want to do everything to prevent intravascular dehydration.”

A South African general practitioner shared more advice, recommending the treatment that ultimately cured the patient within 12 days:

“In your search for the contamination source, involve places visited, parties they went to etc. Keep the patient in hospital until they are well. Add probiotics to the treatment.”

While the source of the girl’s infection remains unidentified, Dr. Fernandes followed the advice of his global peers and the girl’s health returned to normal less than 2 weeks later. Dr. Fernandes also provided the parents with hygiene recommendations to reduce the spread of the illness.

This is the second time this year that a child’s life was saved through medical crowdsourcing on SERMO and doctors rank solving tough patient cases like this as the top benefit of medical crowdsourcing.

For more information on the other case, please check out our previous blog post at:

“This is an amazing example of the power of medical crowdsourcing and international collaboration,” said Dr. James Wilson, an American SERMO member and Ascel Bio infectious disease forecaster. “While most E. coli infections are not life-threatening, it’s troubling and extremely concerning when an infectious illness claims a child’s life so quickly and infects a younger sibling shortly after. It is especially important in cases like this that a physician acts quickly and exhausts all options and resources available to preserve life. This was also a great teaching moment for the U.S. physician audience as it drew attention to forecasts, which indicated the increased risk of E. coli-related complications, helping them avoid a similar preventable death.”

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