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5 Things Medical Librarians Can Do to Help Clinicians Save Lives

Medical librarians are in a unique position to help clinicians make a real difference in the community. Here are 5 tips to help healthcare professionals get accurate real-time information to help improve patient outcomes.

  1. Volunteer to go with doctors and residents on their rounds. Using mobile technology, you can help them search real time for information they need. From looking up possible known drug interactions to investigating alternative treatments not only will you be helping clinicians make informed decisions, you’ll be exposing the residents to the resources available to them through the library.
  2. Offer to conduct research for their medicine morning report. Even if you can’t make the rounds, there are often unanswered questions from the rounds that need follow up. Create an email group that includes everyone making rounds. Find out from one of the residents or from the doctor what questions came up during the rounds and offer to send links to research or sites that will help them with care.
  3. Post difficult questions to emerging healthcare crises to newsgroups to help them collaborate with other doctors around the world. As good as medical knowledge and our databases are, there will always be new crises or diseases cropping up. Consider the fear and confusion that surrounds the Zika virus or Ebola–there are so many unanswered questions. For these situations, consider posting questions to restricted forums where other doctors can respond. Unlike the open forums that are often anonymous, not monitored, and criticized as promoting misinformation, restricted forums can get you access to reliable information quickly. ClinicalAccess, for example, has a place to enter questions for their medical board to review and respond within 48 hours.
  4. Offer to get patient care information in a patient’s native language. Patient education is a crucial part of getting better outcomes. If there are patients who don’t speak a common language with the care professional, offer to find instructions for self-care in their native language.
  5. Serve on committees for quality and performance improvement. As the medical librarian, you are in the position to see on a larger scale the issues that are popping up in the emergency room and other areas of the hospital. You’re also able to monitor, through library forums and list-servs the big picture healthcare issues your hospital should be aware of. Consider joining committees within the hospital for quality and performance improvement. In this way you’re not just helping specific patients, you’re enabling the hospital and all its clinicians to better serve the entire community.