When search examples go bad

You know the feeling when you are looking for a search example and up comes an article advocating a Google search? Irritation! Annoyance! Eye rolls! Big sighs!

Years ago I performed a search demonstration about EpiPens and accidental overdoses. One article that came up was titled: Accidental Epipen injection into a digit – the value of a Google search. Arrggghh! So what happened here? A child accidentally injected himself with his mother’s EpiPen and was rushed to the emergency dept at a UK hospital. Experts were consulted but didn’t know what was the best course of action. Clinicians searched PubMed but didn’t find anything: “a literature search was carried out on PubMed using the following key words: ‘pediatric’, ‘digital artery’, ‘epinephrine injection’. No citations were found.” So they turned to Google and found one article that was very pertinent.

But guess what? The article they found is in PubMed!!!!! And the hospital has a well resourced medical library. So what is going on here? Is it ignorance of search methods? Is it a rapid need for info leading to knowledge of search methods going out the window?   I wonder if this hospital has access to the Chasing the Sun service – a service set up between hospitals in the UK and Australia in order to provide 24hr librarian assistance (and this service has been used in out of hours emergencies).

What can we learn from this?

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One response to “When search examples go bad

  1. Great story Catherine. From a safety perspective, I think its good the clincial team found what they needed, but this example could serve as a “good catch” in that a total omission was averted — THIS TIME! Perhaps the organization should have a conversation to figure out how to shore up their literature identification processes so NEXT time they can use a more reliable approach to finding what they need to inform care activities. Great opportunity here for librarians to work with multidisciplinary patient safety improvement teams to explore this situation. Thanks for sharing.

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