Moving in with Care: About Patient Safety as a Spatial Achievement

J. Mesman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Web of Science)
35 Downloads (Pure)


This article argues that patient safety is also a spatial achievement. To demonstrate this, the author aims to accomplish a spatial analysis with a focus on the coordinating and problem-solving role of the (material) environment and a focus on the way spatial order is produced by safety activities. To gain insight into the spatiality of patient safety, the author follows doctors and nurses while they deal with an unplanned admission of a newborn baby to the neonatal intensive care unit. The analysis especially focuses on the crucial role of the collaborative work of the doctors and nurses in the preservation of patient safety. As the point of departure for the analysis, the author considers space as integral to social action and as something created in the turbulence of social action. This enables the author to go beyond a mere description of how the spatial arrangement of the ward is a part of safety measures. The mobility work that is involved in a safe and smooth collaboration will also be taken into account. The analysis of their mobility patterns on different levels of scale displays the intertwinement between layers of safety and the spatial layers of the neonatology ward.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalSpace and Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • hospital ethnography
  • spatial ordering
  • ICU
  • neonatology
  • mobility work
  • collaboration
  • ad hoc team
  • WORK

Cite this