Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Playing doctors and nurses. And medical librarians

This is a toy figure belonging to my younger son.  Working on a large model boat, he managed to fall off, and needed treatment.  

He had hurt an arm.  We know about slings - about a year ago I had one.  So my son made a sling (more like a splint, I think) out of something he had to hand (sorry), to immobilise the arm.  Then we needed to know if there were any other injuries, so we conducted an X ray (with a torch).  You can begin to see the things we talk about at home - never have a medical librarian for a parent, is possibly the lesson.

Anyway, we discovered he had a head injury.  We know about those too - about a year ago I had one of those too.  So, we kept him under observation and asked him questions from time to time about if he knew where he was, and so on.  

And we found that he had broken ribs.  What to do with broken ribs?   We did not know.  I had not had any of those.  So, we looked it up.  I managed to persuade him in a previous episode of this game (which involved dinosaurs, which is another story) that medical librarians could look things up if doctors and nurses did not know what to do.   Or, they could show the doctor or nurse how to look things up.

So, I looked it up in a first aid book.  A bit there, but nothing about how to treat them.  I tried the impressive St John's Ambulance app, with similar results.   So, off to the computer, to NICE Evidence Search.  I tried rib fractures first, thinking that more medical language might be appropriate.  Among the results, some things about whether CPR causes rib fractures, but nothing immediately that answered the question of what we could do for this poor man.  So I tried broken ribs, and the first result was from Patient (as, a favourite with our medical students, is now called), and the second from NHS Choices.   Having looked at those, we decided that we did not need to bind the ribs up, in fact we should not do so, and that painkillers, rest, ice packs and sleeping standing up were what was required.  We also had information about when he should go to A and E.

There we are.  Imaginative play, but it reminded me of one of the purposes of medical and health librarianship.  You may know what to do, because you are a doctor or nurse, or you have done it before (assuming you did the right thing then, of course), but if you do not, you have to look it up, and that is where librarians come in.

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