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Whooo Says

Dear Whooo,

I am a hospital librarian who is very interested in keeping my library active and relevant to the needs of my hospital. Lately, I have been considering the issue of patient safety; my thoughts were triggered by hospital activities during this year’s Patient Safety Awareness Week, and Barb Jones’ call for feedback from librarians involved in patient safety initiatives. I thought about the work I do with various units and professions within my hospital, and how the overall goal is the safety and good health of our patients. I wonder if there is something I am overlooking, or missing in the patient safety discussion. I do lots of searches for quality improvement, protocols, and individual treatment. Is there more?


Dear Wondering,

Thank you so much for writing, Wondering. I am glad to see that you are involved with a variety of units within your hospital and are considering the issue of patient safety as well as addressing specific inquiries that involve patient safety problems. Read more »

Patient Safety: Librarians have nothing to do with that, right?


According to modern wisdom, the patient safety field came into prominence with the Institute of Medicine’s “To Err is Human”1 report in 2000. This report recognized that harm resulting from medical care was a significant problem, and patient safety moved to the top of the national healthcare reform agenda. Since that time considerable time, skill, and resources have been applied to the problem, however, to date, little recognition has been given to the impact of evidence and information on the issue.

Members of the health sciences library community remember the consequences of an incomplete literature search with the death of Ellen Roche in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University in 2001. Even though the patient safety community at large has not tracked adverse events occurring at least partially due to inadequate evidence/information in clinical care, some members of the medical library community have approached the problem and incorporated patient safety concepts into their library practices.2 The following are three examples of librarians in the MCR that have accepted the challenge of improving patient safety practices and are contributing their skills and expertise in their individual environments. Read more »

Data Visualization Tools: From Start to Finish

How do you like your data presented to you? If you only like to view data in tables, stop reading and watch this TED Talk presentation by Aaron Koblin. When it changes your mind that data can be even cooler when displayed well, come on back and finish reading this article.

Read more »

Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT for short!)

PEMAT3How do you know if patients will understand and follow their instructions? A lot of patient handouts and patient education materials found online might give great information, but are essentially useless if a patient can’t act upon that information. There are numerous tools for evaluating reading level and organization of information. These can be great for gauging if a patient will be able to understand, but they don’t tell you if the patient is able to take action!

Welcome PEMAT! The Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is a tool to evaluate a patient handout or audio/visual material for its understandability and its actionability. This tool is a step-by-step evaluation with 26 items to check for and assess as a simple “yes” or “no.” There are separate items for print vs. audio/visual. Read more »

Proving Your Worth

Shelley White
Mercy Hospital
Springfield, MO

In these difficult economic times, it can be tricky to prove your worth to an organization that seems to be focused on the bottom line dollar when your department doesn’t generate any dollars – or so they may think. I recently completed the “Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore: Walk ‘n Talk Like a CFO” module in the MCR game “Librarians in the Wonderful Land of Oz.” One of the exercises involved creating a tool that would help measure a library’s return on investment, or ROI. Read more »

Looking at MCR Library Closures:

What’s Happening and Why!

Those of us in the biomedical / health information world are very aware that libraries specializing in the health sciences are closing every year at an alarming rate. A coordinator query in the DOCLINE membership database indicated that from 2011 through March 2015, 613 NN/LM member libraries closed across the nation. That’s an average of 115 closings per year. This graph shows library closures by NN/LM region.

Graph showing library closures

Fig. 1 – NN/LM Member Library Closures 2010-2015

Read more »

Precision Medicine: Finally, it’s all about YOU!

microscope image
Photo by tpmartins

At the January 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama announced his Precision Medicine Initiative. This initiative would put 215 million dollars toward understanding how to personalize an individual’s medical treatment based on his or her genes, environment, and lifestyle. While the concept of precision (also referred to as personalized or individualized) medicine isn’t new – think eyeglasses and blood transfusions – advances in science and technology will allow for the exploration of novel treatments and prevention strategies for complex diseases like coronary artery disease, COPD, and hypertension. One million citizens will be asked to volunteer their health data and numerous public and private entities will be collaborating to explore effective disease prevention and treatment. Read more »

Health Insurance Literacy Tools

or “What good is it if I don’t know what I’m doing?!”

Navigating health insurance can be a difficult and confusing process for even the most experienced health care consumers. For someone who has never had insurance before and never needed to navigate the health care system, it can be overwhelming. A patient cannot benefit from having insurance if they do not understand their benefits, or how to access services. This includes people who are unsure of where to go for services, how to make an appointment, or how to prepare for their visit with a health care provider. The following tools and websites can be helpful for librarians who work in public, hospital, school or health sciences libraries and need to assist patrons with insurance questions or finding appropriate care. Read more »

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