For several years, Michelle Kraft, AHIP, FMLA has been sharing her views on medical librarianship through her blog, The Krafty Librarian. In recognition of National Medical Librarian’s Month, MLA Connect is sharing one of her recent posts with her permission.
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Little Stories on a Medical Librarian’s Impact
I want to thank the many people who have shared some of their impact stories. I thought I would post these as little vignettes to serve as a sort of “Chicken Soup for the Librarian’s Soul.” While these stories may be short, the impact of the medical librarian is not.
All stories are told in the first person. They are not my stories, they are anonymized stories taken from the emails librarians have sent me.
I bumped into a nurse who I was doing research for the other day. She thanked me for all of the work I did on INR (international normalize ratio) levels and Coumadin in patients with Covid-19. It turns out Covid-19 can lead to abnormal INR levels. The information I retrieved lead to a change in practice and treating patients at the hospital.
I had done some research for a patron and later she told me that the help I had given her in researching her mother’s medical condition inspired her to change her career to cancer research.
A former patient was suing the hospital for malpractice due to a surgical mishap that occurred. The surgeon and the hospital had indicated that the particular mishap was a known risk for the procedure, even though they had never had it happen before. The patient’s two expert witnesses had testified that the mishap, in their opinion, constituted malpractice. I was asked to do a comprehensive search to see if any other surgeon had reported this type of surgical mishap. (Previous searches by the legal department couldn’t find anything helpful.) I was able to find approximately 10 articles specifically on the surgical mishap, one of which was authored by a specialist in that area. This changed the outcome of the case and they were able to work to settle the claim.
We had a gastroenterologist who was an occasional user of library services. He had a patient in the ICU with a problem that was stumping him. He came to the library and gave me some concepts and details to search on. I think he said she was bleeding internally and looked pretty grave. I went to work and had trouble finding very much, but I finally ended up with only one or two articles that looked fairly relevant. I believe I delivered them to him in the ICU.
He came into the library a day or two later and told me that the information in the articles had saved the patient’s life. I was appreciative that he took time to come into the library to let me know.
At the beginning of Covid-19, I helped sort supplies for each hospital unit. As you might remember there weren’t enough masks, face shields, or gowns. We would distribute just enough for each unit to get through a shift. Then I was a temperature screener at 4:00 am until 8:00 am at the hospital entrance. I came in on the weekend to help with N-95 fit testing. I begged, borrowed, and purchased (with my own funds) material for patients to read.
Early in the Covid-19 pandemic a former health sciences librarian mentioned that there was an international list of articles that people couldn’t fill because of library closures. She was in charge of ILL for a national library. She asked if I would look at the list and see if I could fulfill any of the requests. There were over 6,000 requests. With my very old collection, I was able to provide some articles to libraries in the UK, Korea, and Qatar. The national library was recognized by IFLA for participating.
Following a holiday luncheon for all hospital employees, I returned to the Medical Library in great spirits. After all, the CEO had personally recognized me, called me by name, and told me unequivocally that I was doing a great job, and that she appreciated my work. Wow! The CEO! She remembered my name among all the thousands of employees!
These are just some of the stories that librarians shared with me. Medical librarians can impact patient care by helping doctors find the information needed to treat patients. They have an impact on the administrators and can influence people’s career choices in medicine. They can roll up their sleeves during a crisis and help outside of the library.
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