Appropriately assessing and treating pediatric patients, particularly in emergency situations, can be difficult even for the most experienced pediatrician. Not only are children physically and mentally different from adult patients, but they’re a very diverse group of patients in and of themselves.
Neonates, children and adolescents require an entirely different knowledge-base for drugs, doses and lab value norms, giving even the most straightforward care an extra layer of complexity.
Whilst it would be impossible to put the field of pediatrics into one app, Oliver Karam, an ICU doctor in Switzerland, aims to combine some key medications, ideas, and calculations in pediatric medicine into one simple, concise app that’s both easily accessible and simple to use.
By compiling information from Frank Shann’s “Little White Book”, now in its 15th edition and well-revered among Australian physicians, this app has overlapped time-honored tradition with new-age technology to offer reliable and useful medical information.
At first glance this no-frills app seems to be nothing more than a drug-dosing app, as its name might lead you to believe. However, with some more digging we find that the features included in this app are more than just your run-of-the-mill medication dosages and information.
Opening the app initially takes the user to the front page which is a list of drugs with a search area at the top of the page. Tapping on a medication reveals a wealth of information, including drug dosages and routes for various indications.
Unfortunately, the layout of this information is not very easy on the eye and could use an overhaul in the organization area. Even a couple of bolded words, headings, or bullet points would make the information significantly easier to sift through. As it is now, the information takes on the appearance of one giant run-on sentence forcing the user to decipher information that should be easy to lay-out in a simple-to-use fashion.
Each drug has a quick-access Calc button in the top right to easily calculate drug dosages for those medications which rely on weight in their dosing – which is a nice touch in the convenience department.
Unfortunately, since the app is based on Australian medical information, commonly used US trade names are not included, so a search for Tylenol won’t deliver any results at all and a search for “acetaminophen” (a United States Adopted Name or USAN) will redirect to “paracemetol,” (the International Nonproprietary Name or INN equivalent). While it’s nice that the app automatically redirects for USAN drug names, the inability to search based on US trade name will not go unnoticed by users in the States.
The ability to save drugs to a favorites list and toggle between both that, the full medication list, and a recent history list is very useful and a nice addition to the straightforward search and click list.
By clicking “Code Blue” at the bottom, users are offered a list of medications commonly used in a code with the option to enter a patient’s weight (in kg) and immediately calculate dosages of all the medications at once. This is a great feature in the app, as it takes out a lot of the human-error potential of med dose calculations during a code.
The PedCalc section offers an array of information and calculations for everything from BMI to predicted spirometry values. This is one area where the app definitely succeeds in quality organization. The Apgar scoring and Glasgow Coma Scoring are laid out very well and are simple to use. The GCS section offers one the choice to switch between normal and infant scoring, which is something I haven’t noticed in other apps with a GCS feature.
The labs section is also useful, providing a list of alphabetically-arranged labs which are color-coded in the index area for easy interpretation of their body-fluid location: Yellow for urine, red for plasma, black for sweat, and grey for CSF.
This section also has an in-app purchase for the ability to do additional calculations, such as PaO2/FiO2 ratio and Parkland Formula.
Again, we see the app struggle with poor organization of information here, not unlike we saw in the medication section, making the information more time-consuming to decipher than it needs to be.
The cardio section is a mixture of definitions and formulas that, while useful in some regards, are likely to be the forgotten area of the app. The section feels a bit like an afterthought which neither helps nor hurts the utility of the app.
Overall, the content, layout and usefulness of this app are obvious, as it provides a wealth of information and potential for the pediatric provider. The developers have done a superb job in providing a significant amount of information in a moderately well-arranged and useful manner.
However, the everyday app-user in the United States may prefer to stick with a mainstream app which offers the promise of finding commonly prescribed US medications by trade names which are so often used in US hospitals.
- $19.99 for Initial 2 Years + $5/year for Renewal (Currently a 75% off sale, making it a steal at $4.99)
- Ease of Use
- Array of Information
- Reliable Sources
- Easy-Access to Variety of Calculators
- Blanket Code Dosing
- Favorite Medications List
- Color-Coding of Labs
- Organization of Information Within App
- Lack of US-Specific Trade Names for Searching
- This app has a lot of potential to be a valuable drug dosing and information app in the US, but won’t make it to the top without a few tweaks
- For the everyday US app-user, Epocrates will accomplish basically every function in this app, with the added benefit of being specifically focused on US medications and healthcare
- With a few additions and adjustments, this app could provide a concise area for US healthcare providers to access drug dosing and care calculators at a significantly lower price-point than its competitors
- DrugDoses has a lot of usefulness as-is and tons of potential, so it’s definitely an app I’ll keep around for quick-reference in the future