Roberto Lusardi

Living the intensive care unit, between practices, bodies and technologies

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: practice of medical technology, categorizzation, body, ethnography, ICU

The Intensive Care Unit - medical organization characterized by a high technical-scientific formalization of languages and procedures - is an important social laboratory, in which some of the most disruptive tensions of contemporary medicine can be found, tensions that the personnel has to often dramatically reconcile during its own professional practice. On the basis of ethnographic data gathered during a recent field research, in this article, I aim at showing how the unit's organization and the professional practices in Intensive Care Unit create and reproduce two models of body: the body "exposed" and the body "invisible". These appear to be the result of the process of categorization of patients through which the medical and nursing staff gives meaning to one of the most challenging aspects of this job, that is, the tension between the evaluation of the therapeutic appropriateness of the hospitalization in the ward, on the one hand, and the pressures coming from the social world, in the form of collective expectations, juridical norms, ethical position and organizational bonds, on the other.

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