Thursday, June 01, 2006

Beginning our Journey

The MLA symposium on patient safety and librarianship is behind us now, and I can say that it went really quite well. We ended up with about 55 - 60 participants and had 10 speakers all together, which brought a nice mix of individuals into the event. Of course we ran out of time - each speaker could have gone on for much longer than the time allotted - but our goal was to present this issue to librarians from a variety of perspectives and help them think more broadly about safety from a safety science and cultural perspective, rather than provide "how to-s" and I think we were successful at that.

Our speakers seemed pleased with the opportunity to meet individuals outside their domains to understand patent safety from a different perspective. The presenter dinner we held for them the night before allowed for some networking between our group that we hope will provide for further exploration and "cross-pollination" between librarianship and pharmacy, hospital leadership, risk management, the VA and consumers in how librarians can contribute to safety. Several librarians came up to me after the session to say that they were there because their non-librarian colleagues in safety had suggested they attend, which was a positive thing. I hope they check in with those colleagues to talk about what they learned and to encourage more direct involvement and dialogue about patient safety work.

Also, for the first time since to Err is Human (that I am aware of), MLA had a nice range of papers presented on distinct patient safety roles for librarians and 6 posters (at quick glance). This profession is just beginning their journey to apply their expertise to safety -- so issues of culture, barriers, failure modes, human factors, etc didn't permeate the presentations and the applications were along traditional lines (literature review and support, pda training and content development) but I am very encouraged to see that platform now in place from which a deeper dialogue can be built.

I can only believe this is the beginning of some good stuff for patient safety in that we have yet another professional group coming into the fold to help us deal with the issue of medical error: librarians.

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