April 8, 2008

Coincidence? I think not.

Posted in Musings, Opinion at 11:02 am by Alexia

MPOW, and the health system it is a part of, is going through a transition.  By transition I mean layoffs.  In an email sent to associates, administration stated that layoffs of clinical personnel would be minimal  so as to affect patient care as little as possible.

I contend the library should fit into that category.  While I agree librarians do not interact directly with patients I will argue we affect direct patient care.  What would the surgeon, who was in the operating room with his patient open on the table, have done if he did not have the librarian to call when he needed information immediately about something he didn’t expect to see occurred in his patient?  What would a cardiologist do when a patient arrives with a rare condition?  What would the ER do when patients suffering from a bioharzardous chemical with which they do not know the antidote?

I do not think administration thinks of us in this  manner.  We do not know yet if we are affected or not, but I content we are as clinical as the pathology lab or biomedical engineering.  Only time will tell how administration feels.  All bets are off when a consultant is brought in but I had hoped that our hard work and effort had paid off.  We shall see.

EDIT: I left an entire portion of this post out accidentally, and it was an important part.  Mental note to self – never post before coffee.

Two of the hospitals in our health system, including MPOW, were recently ranked in the top 15 for major teaching hospitals.  What do these two hospitals have in common?  You guessed it – larger libraries with more than one professional librarian on staff.  Is this a coincidence?  I think no.t.  I think that in order to be an excellent center for clinical practice and education you need an excellent knowledge-based information center (aka – library) will excellent professional librarians to help clinicians find the best, most appropriate information in the time they  need it.

This reminds me of the time a nurse from the ED came down to the library.  He’d been searching for treatment of chemicals released from burning PCP piping and had been searching for over two hours.  This was for the ED’s monthly hazmat drill.  Had this been an actual emergency the patients would have been out of luck.  We found the information for him in 10 minutes.  He was so impressed that he invited the librarians to the debrief meeting and from there we ended up on the hazmat team.  Ergo, librarians DO affect patient care directly, even if we don’t directly care for patients.



  1. Joy said,

    My fingers are crossed for you. Can you leak word to some sympathetic library users–physicians, nurse educators, etc.–and have them contact Administration? Say there’s a rumor going round that they may drastically cut or eliminate the library. They’re concerned and wanted to know if it was true.

    Some passionate support of the library right now might help with the decision. I faced something similar and having physicians go into the COO office to support the library and say they can’t do without it can do wonders. Having nurses contact the chief nursing officer saying they heard a rumor they were closing the library was a big help. Now is the time to rally the support you’ve built up with your services. Are you considering Magnet Nursing status? If so, they will REALLY need you then. Are they at all concerned about patient safety or patient centered care? (Do you offer services or access to collection to consumers?) The library can be an important asset with patient safety. Good luck.

  2. Alexia said,

    Thanks for your support, Joy. I should clarify that the library will, in all likelihood, remain open. It is just some staff that we may (or may not) lose. The really sad thing is that we have so much work that we can’t even keep up even at our current staffing levels. Losing any staff will be a great loss.

  3. Michelle said,

    While I realize you are worried about how these personnel changes might effect the library, it would be interesting if you or somebody would do a study and compare hospitals with libraries to those without libraries.

    A very brief starter article could compare the hospitals’ rankings within one’s own state. Granted that doesn’t take into some other possible contributing factors but as I mentioned it is a starter article to get others thinking in the same way to perhaps do a study that compares the outcomes (various common standard procedures) to hospitals with libraries and those without.

    Just a thought.

  4. Alexia said,


    That is a great idea. I don’t know if I have time to take it on myself buy my state association has a research committee and I think I’ll suggest this idea to them!

  5. Mike said,

    Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    Making Money $150 An Hour

  6. Atefeh said,

    I’m a medical librarian i Iran. I like tifine some coworkers in other country to share our knowlage and learn some thing new in thier country. please help me

    so much thanks.

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