Modes of dying in the electronic patient record

Laila Hov*, Bernike Pasveer, Oddgeir Synnes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To die in a medical ward is to die in a context aimed at saving lives and ensuring an efficient patient turnover. At the centre of securing treatment and care for patients is the electronic patient record (EPR). In this study, we will argue that the EPR is not only a container of relevant information about a patient and a record of past events but that it also performs how to go about dying, thereby also actively contributing to orderings of dying. Based on excerpts from 42 EPRs from the last 24 hours of life, we distinguish and analyse three hegemonic modes of ordering - numbering, timing and classifying. These modes primarily perform a 'master narrative' loyal to a heroic curative medicine wherein dying is cloaked, in the sense of being sequestered, and is made invisible. But zooming in on the gaps and cracks of the EPR notes, we argue that here we find traces of a different kind of cloaking attentive to palliative care of the dying process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-350
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Early online dateDec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2022


  • CARE
  • Electronic medical record
  • dying
  • hospital
  • modes of ordering
  • performativity

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