The Role of an In-Patient Care Clinical Medical Librarian

…say that 10 times fast…

AKA Article Summary #7

The intention of the study outlined within the article, published in 2013, was to provide insight on whether or not a Clinical Medical Librarian’s (CML) role on an in-patient care team impacted the outcome of the patients being treated.  The study took place at Louisiana State University’s Health Shreveport campus, which served an urban population of patients.  It measured the patient outcomes of those patients which required research by the CML on the team, versus the individuals who received care without the CML taking an active role on their case.  The study found that ultimately there were no major differences in clinical outcomes between the two groups of patients.  It was determined that patients possessing more complex medical issues, required more research to be completed by the CML, which could have been assumed.

Although this study was specifically reviewing how a CML impacted patient outcomes, I was also able to pull several other valuable pieces of information from its pages – all of which pertain to what the role of a CML actually looks like.  This insight was much more important to me than the methods and results of the actual study, although it was fairly interesting to review that scope of it, as well.

While completing the study, the CML participated in daily, morning rounds –  these always included  a faculty attending physician, a second or third year resident, and two interns.  The CML would provide answers which arose while on the rounds, by searching in online medical information resources, or if unable to answer complex queries, the CML would provide responses and information in a follow-up email.  Over the course of the study, a total of 334 questions were asked by the team to the CML, 258 of these were unique patient queries.  Also, of the 334 asked questions, 274 were answered via a follow-up email, while the remaining 60 were answered at the point of care.  I found these numbers interesting, and to have brought a bit of relief to my mind, in terms of what the demands of a medical librarian look like.  I understand that this study’s results are specific to a location and hospital, however it is good to know that the answer may not always be found immediately and that is acceptable – further research will most likely need to be done.

More interesting statistics from the study, include the numbers related to the breakdown of types of questions asked of the CML, by the care team.  Out of the 334 queries, 121 were related to treatment, 82 related to diagnostic, 81 reviews, 43 epidemiology and another 7 were categorized as “other”.  As someone only just beginning to learn about the field of medical librarianship, even I was not surprised by these results.  It seems to make sense that treatment would be the top type of query by physicians.

Overall, the study itself did not serve to provide any great impact on how a CML’s role can relate to a patient’s care outcome, however the article did provide a lot of unforeseen insight for a newbie to the medical librarianship realm.


Esparza, J. M., Shi, R., McLarty, J., Comegys, M., & Banks, D. E. (2013). The effect of a clinical medical librarian on in-patient care outcomes.Journal Of The Medical Library Association, 101(3), 185-191 7p. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.101.3.007


One thought on “The Role of an In-Patient Care Clinical Medical Librarian

  1. Good work! Glad you noticed that a lot of the work of supporting clinical information seeking is AFTER the point of patient care! In other words, we should remember that there is always learning going on in medicine and often times as you pointed out, that is well after the patient is discharged! 🙂


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