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Interaction between humans and non-humans in a pediatric intensive care unit

Abstract:

Technology is a central element for patients in intensive care. The article aimed to explore the interpretations of interactions between humans and non-humans in the production of care for children with complex chronic conditions in the intensive care unit (ICU). Secondarily, the study discussed the secret as one of the dimensions of interactions associated with the intensive care setting. This was an ethnographic study with participant observation and field diary records, in dialogue with Actor-Network Theory, to discuss the role of technology in social interactions in the context of complex care in a pediatric ICU. Children, families, and professionals attributed new meanings and functionalities to the technology during prolonged stay in the ICU, redefining its role and assuming it as an important mediator in the social interactions between life inside and outside the hospital. Technological incorporation reconfigured the limits of life and the physical and symbolic spaces involving the care and stretched the limits between the public and private spheres during hospitalization. The secret in this setting was traversed by the technological mediation that added new ingredients to the relations of sociability. This new order, linked to interaction between humans and non-humans, challenges health institutions and their staff to rethink their values, procedures, and way of interacting in order to improve the patient’s care, where technological incorporation is a definitive and innovative reality in what could be called the digitization of life and care.

Keywords:
Critical Care; Biomedical Technology; Child; Family

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