In the fall of 2010, UPMC physicians, residents, and nurses were invited to participate in the initial phase of a multi-site survey of the role of library information resources in improving patient care. The results of the full study were recently published.1 In this study, clinicians from 118 hospitals completed an online survey that asked them to think of an occasion when they required additional information for a patient care issue, and to then answer questions about the impact of access to library information resources on patient outcomes for that particular case.

Nearly every study participant agreed that information resources available from their libraries were relevant (99 percent), accurate (99 percent) and current (97 percent). The high quality of information available was not just appreciated, however—75 percent of participants agreed that access to the information definitely or probably changed how they handled an aspect of patient care, including advice given to a patient (48 percent), drug choice (33 percent), and diagnosis (25 percent). Participants (85 percent) indicated that having access to the information saved them time, with the average amount of time saved estimated to be 2.5 hours.

In addition to these positive impacts, clinicians believed the information provided by libraries helped to avoid negative events such as patient misunderstanding of disease (23 percent), misdiagnosis (13 percent), adverse drug events (13 percent), medication errors (12 percent), patient mortality (6 percent), and hospital acquired infections (3 percent).

In follow-up interviews, a subset of participants reiterated the clinical value of having access to current and accurate information, and the impact such access has on patient safety. Clinicians also commented on the value of having access to professional librarians who can assist with patient care, either through provision of literature searches for busy clinicians, or through education of clinicians in the most efficient use of library resources.

1. J.G. Marshall, J. Sollenberger, S. Easterby-Gannett, L.K. Morgan, M. Klem M, et al., “The Value of Library and Information Services in Patient Care: Results of a Multisite Study,” Journal of the Medical Library Association 101 no. 1 (2013): 38-46.

~ Mary Lou Klem