Responsibility and guilt: paradoxical feelings among professionals from a pediatric intensive care unit

Tereza Cristina Peixoto Izabel Christina Friche Passos Maria José Menezes Brito About the authors

The objective of this study was to analyze the nature of responsibility at work among health professionals in a pediatric intensive care unit. This qualitative research involved data gathering from semi-structured interviews with a heterogenous group of 14 professionals. Systematic observations were carried out at different working hours, across a total of eighty hours, and were registered in a logbook. Discourse analysis was based on Foucault. The study showed that the feeling of responsibility is converted into a feeling of guilt by health professionals, based on the intermeshing of truth systems that draw on the fields of legal power, Christianity and medical knowledge, all of which impact on the individual’s practices. The difficulties in dealing with limits in the professional sphere lead to conflicts between professionals which cause suffering when it comes to dealing with the death of children.

Interprofessional relations; Professional responsibility; Professional ethics


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