When Noah Craft, MD, PhD, first saw the unusual skin condition two years ago, he secured the patient's consent to take photographs to educate others about a new national problem: a disfiguring skin condition caused by ingesting cocaine "cut" with a deworming medication for sheep.
Cocaine producers had apparently found a new, inexpensive medication, levamisole, to dilute the cocaine to boost their profits, and their customers were showing up in hospital emergency rooms with serious skin injuries caused by the deworming medication.
Dr. Craft, a dermatologist and lead researcher at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed), provided photographs of the skin condition to VisualDx -- a new technology he helped develop to reduce misdiagnoses -- to help physicians around the country diagnose cocaine-levamisole toxicity.
The VisualDx tool was created with more than 100,000 medical images to help doctors visually diagnose disease. Other editors contributed even more images in the weeks ahead, expanding the knowledge of the cocaine-levamisole toxicity. Previously, such images and medical discoveries would have been published one to two years later.
"I wanted to alert other physicians around the country to this development and to help them answer a question most doctors can relate to: 'What is this? I've never seen anything like it,'" said Dr. Craft, the Chief Medical Officer for Logical Images, Inc., the company that developed VisualDx. "Now that technology has dramatically improved access to information, there is no reason to rely solely on the unaided human mind for diagnosis. We are building better tools to get physicians the most up-to-date information when they are in the emergency rooms so patients get better care -- even in the middle of the night when a dermatologist is not available."
VisualDx combines high-quality, peer-reviewed medical images and concise, actionable information to support today's busy physicians in the accurate recognition and management of disease. Using an online program or a mobile app, health care professionals can input visual clues, symptoms, and patient history to help make the correct diagnosis and avoid costly and dangerous errors at the point of care.
Other LA BioMed investigators contributed their expertise to VisualDx, including Loren Miller, MD, MPH, who specializes in infectious diseases and provided expertise on MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection; and Carol Berkowitz, MD, who served as the senior editor for the specialized skin content in several pediatric modules, including the child abuse recognition module that aims to improve both over- and under-diagnosis of child abuse.
"The distinguished physician-researchers at LA BioMed provided invaluable information and expertise that will help other physicians more effectively and efficiently diagnose diseases and determine the best course of treatment," said Art Papier, MD, Chief Executive Officer for Logical Images, developer of VisualDx.
Logical Images has developed the most comprehensive digital medical image library, representing all ages and skin types and disease variations based on severity and stage, including classic and rare presentations. Almost half of all medical schools license VisualDx now, and more than 1,500 hospitals and large clinics around the country actively use VisualDx. The list includes Harvard, Yale, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, University of Washington, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Davis, USC and many others.
VisualDx was voted among the top five favorite medical apps by Harvard Medical School students twice in the past few years and has received several awards, including recognition as Category Leader in the Clinical Decision Support -- Referential category in the 2012 Best in KLAS Awards: Software & Services report released on December 14, 2012. For more information, please see video-overview" href="http://www.visualdx.com/features/video-overview">http://www.visualdx.com/features/video-overview
The above story is based on materials provided by Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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