Doctors Still Need the Paper to Help Treat Patients

Librarians often encounter people questioning the need for libraries when “everything is already online.” While a great deal of information is online, there is still a lot out there that isn’t but is still needed to help treat patients.

Here is an example where an older article was necessary to help a doctor treat a patient. (Below is a thank you email, the library received one Monday.)

Dear Librarians,
I requested an obscure article from 1981 on Friday night and received it today – photocopied by hand from a bound volume by your colleagues at the University of Cincinnati. The article has valuable information for the management of a pregnant patient with a rare antibody. It was referenced by a couple of later review articles, but they did not include all of the relevant clinical details that are described in the original paper, and that will be taken into account for our patient’s plan of care. I truly appreciate all of the work that you do to get the requested articles, and that you do it so quickly and seamlessly (from the requestor’s perspective). Thank you especially to your team, and to all of the medical librarians who provide such critical support in an era of exponentially increasing, and sometimes overwhelming, knowledge and publications.     

As the doctor mentioned there were articles available on the rare antibody, but they needed this older article with the “relevant clinical details” that wasn’t online to help treat the patient. This is a great example disproving the assumption that “everything is already online.”

Without the help of the medical librarians and the document delivery staff at the University of Cincinnati, it would have made treating this patient more difficult. These two libraries and the librarians working there helped to make an impact on patient care by providing information that was needed for their care plan.

-Do you have another example of medical librarians impacting healthcare? Please share them and I will profile them in future posts.

One thought on “Doctors Still Need the Paper to Help Treat Patients”

  1. Hello Michelle,
    While we receive many grateful responses for our work, this one is the most expansive:
    As usual you are so efficient – these articles in particular have been INVALUABLE & very timely given how quickly you have got them to me and have made very complex decision making in a very rare & complex liver case in ICU much more simple & reassuring to a very anxious family & frankly until recently very puzzled clinicians.
    A perfect illustration of how absolutely crucial Medical Librarian skills and personnel are to complex decision making in the delivery of complex & rarely encountered problems.
    Gastroenterologist / General Physician, one of our senior visiting medical officers (VMO).

    We supplied four articles, one free online, the other three from our university partner, University of Sydney. Two were from the very early 1990s, one from 2012, and a recent one from 2016. We certainly sent this email on to management at the time.

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