Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Julie Jarosinski, 3, had two weeks of flu-like symptoms and repeated fevers. She made several trips to the emergency room, where her parents were told it was a virus and they would just have to wait.
But then, a rash appeared and she went back to the emergency room.
“Not so much raised, but red around the outside, yellow in the center, just everywhere,” describes her mother, Peg Jarosinski, of Sarver. “I didn’t have a clue. I thought maybe she had a blood infection.”
To get a quick answer, the doctors were able to consult with a dermatologist electronically.
They took a picture of it because they weren’t sure.
While a picture and phone consultation seemed so simple, it felt a little too simple for two weeks’ worth of symptoms.
“Shouldn’t a doctor come in and see her?” Peg wondered.
“We looked at the pictures and were able to get back to them within five minutes that we were concerned about a couple different possibilities – that it was an early case of Lyme disease, or it was a strange form of hives, or even a bug bite reaction,” said Dr. Robin Gehris, a dermatologist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Julie was diagnosed with Lyme disease, confirmed by blood tests, and she was started on antibiotics.
“Within 24 hours she was a different kid,” her mother said.
Using a camera as part of specialty consultation has been a big help in the emergency department.
“We can zoom in on a rash, a laceration,” says Dr. Richard Saladino of the Children’s Hospital emergency department. “The advice that I give now with this visual is much better than what I did before, because I have so much more data to work with.”
“I sometimes have an easier time doing a physical exam digitally than in person, because the child digitally is perfectly still. So, someone has gotten them still for me and I can really hone in on the rash,” says Dr. Gehris.
Follow up in person a few days later with the dermatologist is always part of the plan.
“I’ve never had an appointment where you were diagnosed on Saturday and had an appointment with them on Monday,” remarks Peg.
Right now this service is being offered through a grant from an insurance company. It is not covered by insurance.
Dr. Gerhis hopes that when the information is analyzed, insurance companies will see that this kind of early involvement will cut down on hospital admissions and will become a covered service.