DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Mar 10 2008

Librarian Saves Lives!

by Nolan R

A friend sent me an article from CNN.com this weekend about the power of librarians:

“When Mary Ryan’s 4-year-old nephew, Nick, landed in the hospital with a serious infection, her brother called her in a panic. Ryan isn’t a doctor. She’s not a nurse. She’s a librarian.”

The article, called “Tips for Savvy Medical Web Surfing,” actually contains some great tips for searching, although the opening sentence is somewhat misleading.  While librarians can and should direct a patron toward appropriate and reliable sources of information, we cannot give advice or interpret information relating to medical, legal, or tax questions since staff members are not qualified doctors, lawyers, or accountants.  What we can do, however, is help patrons find reliable information that might relate to their search and that they can take back to their doctor for further discussion.

The CNN article gives these tips for searching:Wiz_2

–It’s safe to trust info from government Web sites, colleges and universities
–The same is true for sites of large medical and research institutions
–Use search engines that screen out unreliable information
–Look at review articles in medical journals

Check out the CNN article for suggestions for good places to search for information, such as PubMed or MedlinePlus.  One of our recent DCPLive posts was about the Wellness Information Zone (WIZ), which is another good place to start a search for health topics.  Our Databases page has links to more sources, including GALILEO which can provide articles from medical journals.

I also found a website called Medical Reference for Non-medical Librarians.  While this site is designed for librarians, it can be used by anyone and provides links, lists of print resources, as well as a guide on how to evaluate medical information found on the Internet.

Many hospitals also have medical libraries for patients who want to search for information or learn more about a diagnosis, and these libraries are staffed by librarians trained to search for medical information.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

rhughes March 10, 2008 at 10:40 AM

Good info! CNN’s other health-related articles are also helpful. The one you mention has a link to their “Empowered Patient” features. Or, go directly to:
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/news/empoweredpatient/

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