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Medical record keeping as interactional accomplishment

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Medical records are documents of tremendous social importance. They have been the subject of much medical and sociological research, in particular regarding validity, accessibility and readability. This paper uses Conversation Analysis to add an aspect to the understanding of medical records that has been missing so far, namely how medical records are produced as interactional accomplishments; specifically, how hospital staff members during meetings conversationally negotiate and reach conclusions, treatment recommendations, and other types of consequential decisions. The process involves four steps: assessing patients, interpreting implications, drawing conclusions, and dictating conclusions on tape. The key finding is that participants throughout the process orient towards a need for consensus, whilst at the same time acknowledging the doctors’ interactional leading roles. This insight can enhance our understanding of medical records in hospital settings as constructed and negotiated realities.
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Keywords: Conversation Analysis; co-authorship; decision-making; dictation; ethnomethodology; geriatrics; health care communication; interactional leadership; medical records; multidisciplinarity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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