Deputed power of medical control: the hidden message in the ritual of oral shift reports


  • Inger Ekman RN DipNursEd Lecturer,

    1. Department of Nursing, Göteborg College of Health Sciences
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  • Kerstin Segesten RN DipNursEd MScN PhD Professor

    Corresponding author
    1. Vänersborg College of Health and Caring Sciences and Department of Advanced Nursing Education, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden
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Professor K Segesten Department of Advanced Nursing Education, Göteborg University Box 1010, S-431 26, Mölndal Sweden


The exchange of oral shift reports between nurses is a prominent part of the everyday routine in a hospital ward Increased awareness of the more or less explicit functions of such communication is likely to have a positive impact on the nursing profession Oral shift reports in a nursing care system based on task allocation were therefore observed and analysed Using an ethnographic approach, reports were tape-recorded, and nurses were interviewed regarding their experiences During the shift report session, the nurses were found to receive ritually mediated deputed power of medical control from their colleague, but little attention was paid to nursing needs and measures The nurses clearly demonstrated that they were caught in a system dominated by a medical paradigm that effectively obstructed the progress of nursing as a professional discipline in its own right