How we stop patients using Patchs in medical emergencies

Dr Ben Brown
Dr Ben Brown
  • Updated

This article explains how we stop patients using Patchs for medical emergencies in the 'core' Patchs product.

We also have an optional Signpost AI, which is discussed separately in this article.

1. Warnings

Patients are advised not to use Patchs for medical emergencies before they submit a request. They are given a link to this article that explains what medical emergencies are and that they should contact 999 or go to A&E if they have one. They are also advised that you can only respond during your opening hours, and that if they need help outside these hours they should contact 111. Out of hours there's a big red banner saying you're closed.




2. Red flags question

Before answering any questions they are specifically asked if they have any red flag symptoms.

Do you have any of the following symptoms?
  • Signs of a heart attack: chest pain, pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across the chest

  • Face drooping on one side, unable to hold up both arms, difficulty speaking, or weakness / numbness on one side of your body

  • Sudden confusion (delirium): cannot be sure of own name or age

  • Suicide attempt: by taking something or self-harming

  • Severe difficulty breathing

  • Choking: on liquids or solids right now

  • Heavy bleeding that won't stop

  • Severe injuries Seizure (fit): shaking or jerking because of a fit, or unconscious and cannot be woken up

  • Sudden, rapid swelling: of the lips, mouth, throat or tongue

The patient can respond either: Yes or No

If they answer 'yes' they are advised to call 999 or A&E. They are then unable to to submit a request.



3. Confirmation

After answering the Patchs chatbot questions, patients must confirm that, (i) the information can be added to their medical record, (ii) that they understand you can only respond during your opening hours, and (iii) that their request is not a medical emergency.



How effective are these measures at stopping patients using Patchs in medical emergencies?

We know from the triage decisions made by Patchs users that approximately 0.26% of requests submitted to GP practices are deemed emergencies. That's 1 in every 385 requests, or 26 in every 10,000 requests. And this includes requests that need to be dealt with by GP practices on the same day, not just ones that need 999 or A&E.



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