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North Shore-LIJ Libraries

Impact On Patient Care Study

A 1991 scientific study conducted in fifteen hospitals in the Rochester, NY, area revealed that 80% of 208 participating physicians said they handled some aspect of their patient's care differently as a result of information provided by their hospital library [1]. Nearly all (96.5%) of the physicians said that information provided by their hospital librarians contributed to better-informed clinical decisions [2].

Overall, physicians rated the information provided by the hospital library more highly than that provided by diagnostic imaging, lab tests, or discussions with colleagues [3]. These findings confirm a previous study of physicians in Chicago, in which 95% of the respondents said that information from the library contributed to higher quality care for their patients [4].

Physicians reported the following changes in specific aspects of patient care as a result of the information provided by the library [5]:

  • 29.3% reported changing diagnosis
  • 50.5% reported changing choice of tests
  • 45.2% reported changing choice of drugs
  • 19.2% reported reducing length of hospital stay
  • 71.6% reported changing advice given to patients

Physicians also said that the information provided by the library helped them avoid the following in the patients they treated [6]:

  • 19.2% reported avoiding patient mortality
  • 8.2% reported avoiding hospital-acquired infection
  • 21.2% reported avoiding surgery
  • 45.1% reported avoiding additional tests or procedures
  • 28.3% reported avoiding additional outpatient visits

Importance to the Hospital

Immediate access to up-to-date patient care information is essential for informed clinical and management decision-making. Qualified health science librarians, aided by computer technology, can provide a broader range of information and locate needed information more quickly than other hospital employees or medical professionals doing the research on their own

Eighty-five percent of the physicians in the Rochester study reported that the information provided by their librarians saved them time, and 93% reported that the information provided them with new knowledge, with resulting cost savings and improved patient care for their institutions [7].


  1. Joynt RJ, Marshall JG, McClure LW. Financial threats to hospital libraries. JAMA 1991 Sep 4;266(9):1220-1.
  2. Marshall JG. The impact of the hospital library on clinical decision making: the Rochester study. Bull Med Lib Assoc 1992 Apr;80(2):169-78.
  3. Marshall, op. cit.
  4. King DN. Contribution of hospital library services: a study. Bull Med Lib Assoc 1987 Oct;75(4):296-9.
  5. Joynt, op. cit.
  6. Marshall, op. cit.
  7. Marshall, op. cit.
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