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Director’s Reflections…Does Access to Information Make a Difference?

Elsewhere in this issue, Mary Lou Klem reports on the newly-published results of the Value of Libraries project, a multi-site study aimed at determining the impact of the library’s information resources and services on patient care. UPMC participated in the pilot phase of this project. In this survey study, clinicians were asked to think about an occasion in the last six months when they looked for information resources for patient care (beyond what is available in the eRecord or lab results) and to answer questions regarding that occasion.

A total of 1,473 UPMC physicians, residents, and nurses responded to the survey. The top five information resources used by these UPMC clinicians were online journals, Pubmed/MEDLINE, UpToDate, online books, and print books. When asked, “Did you handle any aspect of the clinical situation differently as a result of having the information?” 73 percent of UPMC respondents answered “yes” or “definitely yes.” Examples of reported changes included different advice to patients/families, different choice of drug or other treatment, and/or different diagnosis or test ordered. Nearly all respondents (>95 percent) agreed that the information was relevant, accurate, current, clinically valuable, refreshed their memory of facts or details, provided new knowledge, contributed to higher quality of care, and resulted in a better informed clinical decision.

To me, the most striking UPMC result was a list of the key adverse events avoided as a result of the information retrieved. The 1,173 UPMC clinicians who responded to this question listed the following events avoided:

Patient misunderstanding of disease: 22 percent
Additional tests or procedures: 20 percent
Misdiagnosis: 15 percent
Adverse drug reaction: 13 percent
Medication error: 12 percent
Patient mortality: 6 percent

I would argue that these results clearly indicate that access to evidence-based information provided through HSLS resources does indeed make a difference in the quality of care provided to patients at UPMC. For a summary of study results specific to UPMC, please go to the “Value of Library and Information Services in Patient Care Study.”

Posted in the February 2013 Issue