“Let’s Sit Forward”: Investigating Interprofessional Communication, Collaboration, Professional Roles, and Physical Space at EmergiCare

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Communication is key to hospital emergency department (ED) caregiving. Interventions in ED processes (and health care organizing in general) have struggled when they have ignored the professional role expectations that enable and constrain providers with patients and each other. Informed by a communication as design (CAD) approach, this study explored the intersections of professional roles, physical space, and communication at EmergiCare—an academic medical center and level-1 trauma center hospital. Based on an ethnographic analysis of field notes from 70 hours of shadowing at the EmergiCare ED, this study identified two specific communication patterns, “case talk” and “comfort talk,” that reflect different logics for communication in health care organizing. The findings indicate (a) that case and comfort talk have different status and therefore different influence in EmergiCare ED interprofessional communication and (b) that the arrangement of physical space at EmergiCare ED reflects the requirements of case talk more so than comfort talk. These findings have important implications for theory and practice, including the importance of considering the macro-discursive construction of professional roles reified in the arrangement of work space.

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Health Communication, v. 31, issue 12, p. 1506-1516