Medication communication during ward rounds on medical wards: Power relations and spatial practices.

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Medication communication during ward rounds on medical wards: Power relations and spatial practices.

Health (London). 2013 Mar;17(2):113-34

Authors: Liu W, Manias E, Gerdtz M

Communication plays a crucial role in the management of medications. Ward rounds are sites where health professionals from different disciplines and patients come together to exchange medication information and make treatment decisions. This article examines power relations and spatial practices surrounding medication communication between patients and health professionals including doctors, nurses and pharmacists during ward rounds. Data were collected in two medical wards of a metropolitan teaching hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Data collection methods involved participant observations, field interviews, video-recordings, together with individual and group reflexive interviews. A critical discourse analysis was undertaken to identify the location sites where power relations were reproduced or challenged in ward rounds. Findings demonstrated that traditional medical hierarchies constructed the ways in which doctors communicated about medications during ward rounds. Nurses and pharmacists ventured into the ward round space by using the discourse of preparation and occupying a peripheral physical position. Doctors privileged the discourse of medication rationalization in their ward round discussions, competing with the discourse of inquiry taken up by patients and families. Ward rounds need to be restructured to provide opportunities for nurses and pharmacists to speak at dedicated times and in strategic locations. By critically reflecting upon the complex process of medication communication during ward rounds, greater opportunities exist for enhanced team communication among health professionals.

PMID: 22674748 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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