The implementation of medical advances: the constitution of Intensive Care Medicine as new Speciality in a Central Hospital
Departament of Sociology / PhD student Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa Lisboa, Portugal
Medical work is mediated by sophisticated technological means. The "transformative power" of technological innovation regarding health, illness and the body, and even the concept of human life, can be illustrated, among others, by the case of Intensive Care Medicine.
The number of Intensive Care Units has been increasing steadily by various technological, medical and social reasons. Equality and the universality of citizenship rights, scientific development and improvement in the services, exert constant pressures with regards to the treatment of patients in intensive care, originating ethical and medical controversies.
Beyond the discussions held by institutional actors, which kind of participation do patients, their families, and society in general, could have in matters of uncertainty and risk associate with the employment of all available technology in the hospital?
Thinking in different views of risk and uncertainty among medical staff, patients and families, we intend to know how they are negotiated and applied in hospital work.
Technology is not only about artefacts but also an organizational and professional procedure, underlining the modernization, innovation and progress discourse. The ways of doing and organizing the medical practices transform them selves in technological procedures.
Technological functions and effects are not an inherent matter but social and culturally contextualized, so they could be passively accepted or radically contested. However, as far as health and medical practices is concerned, they are always introduce to us as good, justified for the well of the patients, minimized in concerned to risks and uncertainty degree.
New technical knowledge both opens and close doors because it works with uncertainty. The consequences for medical practices are the growing number of options at one's disposal, implying risk-benefit accountability