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"Librarians have search expertise and an awareness of available materials that physicians—and ultimately, patients—can truly benefit from," says Robert Holloway. (Credit: Thirteen Of Clubs/Flickr)

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Should your doctor consult the librarian?

A new article argues that health science librarians should be part of patient-care teams.

“Rather than being seen as the place where books and journals are, we have a new vision for what libraries are and what they can do. We are collaborators and facilitators in patient care,” says co-author Julia F. Sollenberger, associate vice president and director of Medical Center Libraries and Technologies at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

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In the JAMA Viewpoint article, Sollenberger and Robert G. Holloway, chair of the department of neurology, demonstrate the growing importance of health science libraries and librarians in patient care.

Sollenberger largely bases her reasoning on a study published earlier this year in the Journal of the Medical Library Association. Funded by the National Library of Medicine, the study surveyed more than 16,000 physicians, residents, and nurses from 116 hospitals in the US and Canada.

The study finds that the majority of them believe library and information sources positively influence their clinical decisions and ability to provide instructions to patients. Sollenberger also refers to another study indicating a librarian’s presence at morning report correlates to shorter hospital stays and lower costs.

“With ongoing changes in health care as a result of information technology…(health sciences libraries are) helping to make patient care both efficient and effective,” Sollenberger writes.

“There is an unprecedented amount of information accessible to clinicians, but the information is only as good as our ability to sift through it all and interpret it. Librarians have search expertise and an awareness of available materials that physicians—and ultimately, patients—can truly benefit from,” says Holloway.

“The shift to include librarians in care teams will require careful attention to workflow design and to organizational and social issues,” Sollenberger cautions in the article.

Source: University of Rochester

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