Seeking Health Care Help on Social Media – a Little Girl’s Miracle
Problem: While her mother was extruding hot glue from an industrial glue gun, a two-year-old girl reached into the molten mass, resulting in extensive second- and third-degree hand burns. The parents sought immediate treatment. Five days of persistent severe wound pain, copious thick yellow drainage, increasing maceration, and lack of healing led to a surgical consult. The mother solicited prayers and posted photos on social media.
Past Management: The ED prescribed silver sulfadiazine. The following day, the burn clinic prescribed a multi-ingredient cream.* Homeopathic remedies (rinsing wounds in breast milk, ingested colloidal silver, and cold laser therapy) were added by the mother. Normal toddler activities necessitated 3–4/day, rather than 1/day, dressing changes. Despite acetaminophen+codeine (10:1), ibuprofen, and lavender oil, each dressing change was excruciating.
Current Clinical Approach: Polymeric membrane dressings (PMDs) were originally designed to decrease pediatric burn patients’ pain. Along with lengthy private message consultations, silver PMDs were overnighted, arriving during a dressing change the sixth day. All topical treatments were discontinued, including rinsing at dressing changes. Saturated PMDs were simply removed and replaced. Applying a flexible PMD around each finger was pain-free.
Patient Outcomes: The mother posted photos showing dramatic improvement after only 7 hours: clean, unmacerated, less inflamed wound beds. Pain reliever use decreased and healthy granulation tissue quickly followed. The wounds closed completely, with almost no scarring, after only ten days of PMD use. Many who followed the story on social media learned how to care for their loved ones’ wounds.
Conclusions: Increasingly, patients use social media to solicit health advice. Although face-to-face care is preferable, healthcare professionals can provide a valuable community service by offering evidence-based information online. Through social media, this little girl obtained an ideal dressing for her complex burns, sparing her from surgery, further pain, and physical and emotional scarring.