So this is my second Friday Fun Paper post, in which I present to you a odd, amusing, surprising, or otherwise attention-grabbing articles that I stumble upon in my work as a medical librarian. Today’s article is a case study that pretty much says it all in its direct, but concise, title “Rectal Salami.” I think that’s really all I need to say about the article, other than that it’s from the International Journal of Clinical Practice by Shah, Majed, and Rosin. I don’t remember how on earth I stumbled upon this particular article – I have not done any similar searches that I can recall recently – but I had the foresight to save it on my “to read” list and sort of did a double take when I found it again in the list. However, I will admit I did not actually read the article – the abstract was more than adequate for me. Still, three thoughts came to mind, one flippant, and two related to librarian work.
First, I would like to have been there during the brainstorming session for the title. Did they float other names? Did anyone feel tempted to make a bad pun? Were there suggestions put forth about how to maybe be a little more tactful about it, a little less blunt? How many ideas did they go through before one of them just said, “I don’t know – should we just call it ‘Recal Salami?'” And everyone kind of shrugged, and no one could really think of anything better, so now they all get to put an article called “Rectal Salami” on their publication lists.
Second, and more seriously, my colleague and I have gotten to do something pretty cool recently – we go to morning report once a month to teach the residents at our hospital about literature searching. In case you’re not familiar with medical education, residents are the people who have graduated with their MD, but are doing additional training in a medical specialty. Part of their training is going to these morning reports, which involve one of the residents presenting the case of an unusual or challenge patient they’ve taken care of recently. The resident presenting the case goes through the patient’s history and symptoms, and then everyone brainstorms about what they think the problem could be. Then the resident presents what he or she found when they examined the patient, and the others suggest tests they would want to order if this were their patient. The presenter gives the numbers on how those tests turned out (with some numbers occasionally garnering soft sounds of surprise and awe among the others in attendance for their being so off-the-charts out of the norm) and shows any images they have. By then everyone’s got a good guess about what’s wrong with the patient and they talk about treatment and how the patient ended up doing. Finally the librarians (us!) talk about how you could use appropriate resources to quickly find the answer to clinical questions that might be relevant to the diagnosis or treatment of the disease. It’s very cool. Since we’re a pretty major medical center and one of the best in the country, we do get some really unusual and challenging cases. The kind you might actually write a paper about. Something that not many people had written about before. Something like, you know…well, I’m not going to repeat it again, but you know.
Third and finally, when I read articles, I always sort of “file them away” so that I can suggest them to patrons I work with – surprisingly often, I’ll read something and then the next day someone will come and ask me a question that can totally be answered by the random thing I just read. So when I read this abstract, I thought to myself, well, if a patron ever comes up to me and says something like, “so I need help finding article about how to treat a patient…see, this guy…he put a…well, I mean, he had this salami,” I will be able to smile and nod gently and reply, “say no more. I have just the article for you.”
Hmm…now anyone who Googles “rectal salami” is going to potentially end up on my website.