• negotiated order;
  • doctor-nurse interaction;
  • ward organisation;
  • professional power;
  • health care professionals


This paper reports on a study of the interplay between nurses and doctors in medical and surgical wards in Sweden. The social order on the wards is seen as a negotiated order, the result of a continuous negotiation between doctors and nurses. The negotiated order perspective is argued to be a more appropriate means of understanding the interaction on wards than the traditional doctor-nurse game model which has dominated research until now. In particular, the study shows the importance of analysing the structural basis of negotiations and its knowledge context in order to understand the interplay of doctors' and nurses' opportunities for exerting power on the wards.