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Regulating hospital use: length of stay, beds and whiteboards

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HEARTFIELD M. Nursing Inquiry 2005; 12: 21–26

Regulating hospital use: length of stay, beds and whiteboards

This paper presents part of a larger study of contemporary nursing practice and the rationalisation of hospital length of stay. Informed by Michel Foucault's work on governmentality, length of hospital stay and the re-engineering of surgical services are examined, not in terms of numerical representations of hospital use, but as part of social and political processes through which certain concepts are made susceptible to measurement and practices are organised. Using data generated through fieldwork in a hospital surgical division this analysis offers understandings of how social practices around length of hospital stay are translated and how they pattern contemporary hospital nursing practice. Nursing practice is explored through the reconstitution of hospital beds and the demands of local administration of hospital length of stay.
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Keywords: beds; governmentality; hospital length of stay; nursing practice; space; time

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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