23 December 2010

Holiday Backlog: Getting Articles Quicker

The time of year has come where there seems to be an increase in darkened departments despite your own burning of a two-sided candle.  The situation:  You're working the holidays (happily of course!) and you need some information. If you've been reading this blog you also know that the Library is the be all and end all for information, and so you decide to phone, email or scout them out only to be met with an out-of-office holiday reply and a darkened room.  Of course not all Library staff are lucky enough to get away for the holidays (in fact most of them that I know remain open for the season minus a day or two); nevertheless, it's worthwhile to see if your Library is a Loansome Doc provider. 

The traditional article ordering process you're used to likely includes sending your requests into Library staff and waiting until it is processed, ordered, filled and returned.  The problem arises when that library is well-used and under-staffed (as is all too often the case) causing a long wait time or perhaps when you have sun-seeking, holiday-taking Librarians (*gasp*), leaving you without a way to order articles.

What is Loansome Doc?  
It's a program developed by the National Library of Medicine (those guys are always coming up with great things!) that requires a one-time sign up that allows you to request articles not subscribed to via your own library straight from PubMed. Once you sign up ordering articles is as easy as choosing the items you want from your PubMed search and selecting 'Order' from the top 'Send To' button.  The bottom line:  You get your articles faster by bypassing some of the extra administration of the traditional process. 

Talk to your Library staff about whether or not they are a Loansome Doc provider, how you can get set to avoid the holiday backlog, and how to use it year round to get your articles quickly!

10 December 2010

Article Overload? PubMed's Clinical Queries narrows the field!

Ever done a search in PubMed that returned way too many articles and your attempts to whittle it down seemed time consuming and frustrating?  If you're looking to find articles relating to the diagnosis, prognosis, therapy or etiology of a specific clinical matter then try PubMed's Clinical Queries! You can find it in the middle column of the PubMed homepage or by clicking here.

Clinical Queries Interface

 In the search bar that appears on the top of the screen type in your particular query  then simply select your category (Therapy, Diagnosis etc.) and choose Broad or Narrow which simply broadens the predefined search strategy or narrows it.  Easy right?

So let's see the difference between a regular PubMed Search and PubMed's Clinical Queries:

Search topic: Hepatic Angiosarcoma

PubMed general search term: Hepatic Angiosarcoma+Diagnosis
Articles returned: 344

Clinical Queries search term: Hepatic Angiosarcoma
Search set to Diagnosis+Broad, Articles returned: 196
Search set to Diagnosis+Narrow, articles returned: 9

Voila!  You've got manageable results for you clinical question.  Of course not all questions can be researched or answered this easily so make sure to talk to your Librarian if you need increased depth and comprehensiveness for your topic or simply more information and searching expertise. 

03 December 2010

AMA Released Guidelines for Physicians and Social Media

AMA Released Guidelines for Physicians and Social Media

On the silent side...experts at your fingertips

Today I attended our Toronto Health Science Library Consortium AGM (a wonderful group of highly skilled people) including a talk from Dr. Brian Goldman, physician and author of the new book "The Night Shift: Real Life in the Heart of the ER" and Radio presenter of the CBC show "White Coat, Dark Art".  There were a few things that struck me, number one being the silence amongst clinical staff about errors: once may be fine, twice, well let's not talk about twice~.  Of course this view is changing, especially with new Ontario legislation supporting physicians in voicing errors without fear of legal retribution; however, this may not cut to the core of the issue.  What if it's not just legal retribution but reputation and professional personas? Clinical staff have a lot on their shoulders, have a lot expected of them, a lot of responsibility.  We all 'mess up' in our jobs but those errors are not as often remembered; whereas, for a Physician or Nurse a 'mess up' usually has much more memorable consequences.

The second part I was intrigued by in his talk is what he claims is a pervasive feeling of 'not measuring up'.  Again most professionals probably feel this at some point in their careers but when your job is to be responsible for people's lives voicing those feeling of inadequacy seems daunting or even impossible.  There are so many factors that foster these feelings and the silence without a single cure-all answer; however, there are individual things that can be done. Despite speaking to a room full of Librarians the connection wasn't made explicitly between feelings of inadequacy and what a Library offers (though he did state the desire to see mid-career re-education/refresher certification). 

For someone in the information field it seems there's a clear connection between these issues and continuing education and I'm not talking just the CE courses.  I mean the everyday attention to details, investigating further, using the quick and often easily accessible information tools/experts to help make the correct diagnosis.  Point-of-Care tools like UptoDate, Dynamed, BMJ's Clinical Evidence, Nursing Reference Centre, Rehabilitation Reference Centre are excellent tools (not replacements!) to aid your clinical knowledge.  These tools are likely paid and provided by your Library (and of course like most things in  an efficient health system they are very expensive).  If you're using these tools or would like to have access to them remember to throw your support behind the Library!  This sort of 'at-the-bedside' information is proven to reduce medical error and help clinical staff feel confident in their patient care decisions: it's like having some of the best international minds ready to consult at a moment's notice: silent but in this case, powerful.

If your hospital is using a different point of care tool than you're used to don't avoid it, ask your Library staff for a quick tutorial!  Five minutes of training could be the difference between a confident decision and one you want to be silent about.


Check these links out for more information about Dr. Brian Goldman's new book The Night Shift or his radio show White Coat, Black Art

25 November 2010

New Widgets

I've added the Plain language Medical Dictionary Widget from the University of Michigan Library and UptoDate's Patient Information widget found on the left.  Try them out!

19 November 2010

Keeping your patients informed

Yesterday I had a staff member from another hospital come in and ask for patient information sites for an assignment they were doing.  The unfortunate would-be-patron was declined as she wasn't a staff member and I'm not a homework jockey; however it made me think:  This could be useful info for you guys!

There are lots of hospitals that now offer a Consumer of Patient Health information service so check with your Medical Librarian to see if this is an option for your patients to get more information.  In the meantime...

There are lots of Library databases and products that offer patient information tools such as:

  • UptoDate's Patient information (free to use even without a subscription)
  • As well as patient information tabs through other  products such as Lexi-Comp and/or Nursing Reference Centre (depending on the Library's subscriptions)
  • These products sometimes are even offered in various languages

Then there's the wonderful MedlinePlus  from the National Library of Medicine which not only includes a huge amount of information for your patient but also includes excellent videos, drug information, a medical dictionary and interactive tutorials.

Here's some more to check out:

Medical Library Associations Deciphering MedSpeak Brochures for order

These just scratch the surface but can keep you busy checking out all their various functionality.  If you want more information contact your Medical Librarian or if you have a Consumer Health Centre on site go take a visit to see what they offer!

10 November 2010

Introducing your Medical Library/Librarian!

I'm going to ease myself into this blog and ease others into it as well, so I thought I'd start out with a simple "What's a Medical Library?"

Answer: So many things!  First and foremost the Medical Library should be a starting point for any health care professional who wants to access health information of any sort, standards, best practice guidelines, resource and tools training, point of care patient tools, knowledge management resources and more.

A Medical Library (as most libraries) is a constantly and quickly changing area; your Librarian an information professional extraordinaire!  Pretty much anything to do with information and health or information and health care management can be sourced via the Library or the Librarian.

Though print collections of books and journals still play a role in the modern medical Library that is only the very tip of the iceberg.  Libraries and Librarians are steeply involved in cutting edge technologies, information portals etc.  with the plethora of everyday information resources being used in a hospital largely taken care of by the Library team/department.

My own personal thoughts towards the future of Librarianship and Medical Libraries is a larger role of the information professional and their expertise, placing less importance to the physical space (a possible flip from the traditional aspects of the field).  If you have any sort of question, any sort of "I wonder...", be it for patient care, continued education, training, help with new health info technologies, etc. then go see your Medical Librarian!

As I wrote in my last post, I'm going to attempt to use this blog to reach out to my patrons, offering information and tools to help them in their everyday, trying to steer away from things too 'Librarian' centric (though sometimes they may sneak in!)

In the spirit of defining things:  

  • If you've ever wondered "What the heck does that mean?" about a new fangled heath care phrase try Leman's Lexicon Tool 
  • If you're looking for a Plain Language Medical Dictionary try this one developed by the University of Michigan Health Sciences Library

If you need more tools feel free to post your query or take a trip to see your medical Librarian!


03 November 2010

"How do we make this more online?"

In an effort to combat the 'traditional' stamp that seems to be a permanent fixture on any Librarian's forehead, I'm joining the ranks of online savvy Librarians in hopes that these online efforts will reach my likewise savvy patrons.

As a medical Librarian by trade, I get to wade through the ever-growing amounts of information applicable to all health care fields (hence the blog title!) Where some Medical Librarian blogs are targeted to other Medical Librarians, I'm going to attempt to target my patrons.  I'll try and offer them a space where they can access handy info tips and relevant tools for their own trade; bringing quality medical/nursing and health care admin information to desktops and handhelds!

Let's see if it works ;)


“Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.”
- William Pollard