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Acting in Anaesthesia: Ethnographic Encounters with Patients, Practitioners and Medical Technologies

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In recent years, evidence-based medicine (EBM), clinical governance and professional accountability have become increasingly significant in shaping the organization and delivery of healthcare. However, these notions all build upon and exemplify the idea of human-centred, individual action. In this book, Dawn Goodwin suggests that such models of practice exaggerate the extent to which practitioners are able to predict and control the circumstances and contingencies of healthcare. Drawing on ethnographic material, Goodwin explores the way that ‘action’ unfolds in a series of empirical cases of anaesthetic and intensive care practice. Anaesthesia configures a relationship between humans, machines and devices that transforms and redistributes capacities for action and thereby challenges the figure of a rational, intentional, acting individual. This book elucidates the ways in which various entities (machines, tools, devices and unconscious patients as well as healthcare practitioners) participate, and how actions become legitimate and accountable.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In her theorisation of action, Goodwin draws insights literally from the cutting edge: from bringing the body through the trauma of surgery. This book should be read by all who are concerned with the production of safety and the relationship between agency and accountability."—Maggie Mort, Lancaster University, UK

"For the practitioner, Goodwin's work acts as a mirror, simultaneously reflecting and illuminating anaesthetic work. We live in an age where professionals are increasingly called upon to account for what they do, and healthcare policy moves ever towards standardisation. This book is a timely and scholarly reminder that personal routines and practices are essential in maintaining the quality and safety of patient care in anaesthesia."—Andrew Smith FRCA, Royal Lancaster Infirmary, UK

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Dawn Goodwin is a social science lecturer in medical education and director of problem-based learning and teaches courses on various aspects of science, technology and medicine to both medical and social science students. Her current research interests focus on the development of embodied knowledge, its place in clinical practice and the processes of learning involved. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research centred on the notions of participation and accountability in healthcare practice. Along with colleagues Dr Buscher and Dr Mesman, Dawn Goodwin is currently editing a book of ethnographic studies of diagnostic work drawn from a range of disciplines.

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Table of Contents

1. Understanding anaesthesia: theory and practice; 2. Refashioning bodies, reshaping agency; 3. Accounting for incoherent bodies; 4. Teamwork, participation, and boundaries; 5. Embodied knowledge: coordinating spaces, bodies, and tools; 6. Recognising agency, legitimating participation, and acting accountably in anaesthesia.

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